BY LIEUTENANT J.B.BICKERSTETH. M.C.
WITH FOREWORD ET
FIELD MARSHAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG.
K.T.. G.C.B.. O.M.. G.CVQ. KG.I.E..
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in 2011 with funding from
University of Toronto
HISTORY OF THE 6tH
BY LIEUTENANT J^B. BICKERSTETH, M.C.
1ST ROYAL DRAGOONS, S.R.
WITH FOREWORD BY
FIELD-MARSHAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG
K.T., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., K.C.I.E.
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE BRITISH
ARMIES IN FRANCE. DEC, 191 5 -APRIL, 19 19
THE BAYNARD PRESS (SANDERS
PHILLIPS & CO., LIMITED), 6 & 8
UPPER THAMES STREET, E.C. 4
Formation of the Brigade i
First Battle of Ypres .
Second Battle of Ypres
The Hohenzollern Redoubt
Epehy and The Birdcage
Vadencourt and Tertry .
The German Offensive .
The Allied Offensive
The Break-up of the Brigade
PHOTOGRAPHS OF GENERALS
1— BRIGADIER-GENERAL E. MAKINS, C.B., D.S.O. COMMANDED
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. SEPTEMBER, i 9 i 4 _NOVEMBER, 191+.
r r r - t - * t
2— BRIGADIER -GENERAL D. G. M. CAMPBELL. COMMANDED
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. NOVEMBER, 1914— MAY, 19 16.
/ t * r t
3— BRIGADIER -GENERAL A. E. W. HARMAN, C.B., D.S.O. COM-
MANDED THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. MAY, 19 16— MARCH, 191 8.
, r ' ' ' ' 1
4— BRIGADIER - GENERAL A. G. SEYMOUR, D.S.O. COMMANDED
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. MARCH, 1918 — AUGUST, 1918
1 1 * 1 1 1 1 1
5— BRIGADIER-GENERAL EWING PATERSON, D.S.O. COMMANDED
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. AUGUST, 1918 — MARCH, 1919.
LIST OF MAPS
1. Movements of 3rd Cavalry Division, 8th October-20th October, 1914.
2. Position of 3rd Cavalry Division on 21st October, 1914, and following
3. Illustrating period, 19th October-iyth November, 19 14.
4. Illustrating positions of 6th Cavalrv Brigade, 13th and 14th May, 1915.
5. Position held by Brigade at Loos, 25th-26th September, 19 15.
6. Showing trenches held at Hohenzollern Redoubt in January and
February, 191 6.
7. Showing position held at Arras on nth April, 191 7.
8. Showing sector held near Epehy and the Birdcage, May and June, 191 7
9. Showing sector held near Vadencourt and Le Verguier, December, 191 7,
and January, 191 8: and area over which ' C ' Battery fought, 21st-
26th March, 191 8.
10. Showing area of Mounted and Dismounted operations, March, 191 8.
11. Illustrating charge of Composite Squadron near Villeselve, March, 1918.
12. Illustrating operations near Villers Bretonneux, 4th and 5th April, 191 S.
13. Illustrating operations east of Amiens, 8th-ioth August, 191 8.
14. Illustrating capture of Honnechy and Reumont, 9th October, 1918.
15. Showing series of battles leading up to the Armistice.
r § J HIS straightforward account of the doings of the 6th
-*■ Cavalry 'Brigade, which saw service on the Western
Front from the fall of ^Antwerp to the signing of the ^Armistice,
will appeal not only to those connected with the Brigade, but to
all who are interested in the future of Cavalry,
d/fs a faithful description of the varied nature of wor\ that
cavalry were called upon to perform, it should help to dispel any
lingering impression that the cavalry soldier had an unduly easy
time on the Western Front. By the account it gives of the
several actions in which the Brigade did work which only
cavalry could have undertaken it emphasises the view, which I
myself hold, that cavalry have still a very important part to
play in war.
The book shows that from the First Battle of Tpres until the
victory on the Sambre the Brigade took part in a long succession
of important actions ; and that when it was not engaged in
battle its personnel, in addition to maintaining themselves in a
high state of efficiency as cava by men, were required at different
times to carry out most of the duties of infantrymen. It shows
also that on occasions such as the brilliant mounted charge at
Villesehe in March, 191 8, and later in the same battle at
Villers Bretonneux when rapidity of movement was of paramount
and vital importance, cavalry have a definite advantage over
any other arm. The rapid exploitation by the cavalry of the
success of our infantry attack on the 8M October south of
Cambrai is another case in point.
In writing these few words of comment, therefore, at the opening
of this account of the actions of one Cavalry Brigade, I pay
tribute to all who saw service as cavalry soldiers in France and
4 * 7 4
' HIS BOOK is a simple unvarnished narrative of
the chief events in the history of the 6th Cavalry
Brigade from September, 19 14, to March, 19 19.
A Brigade is too large a formation to allow of the
inclusion of personal anecdotes about individual
officers and men. These will no doubt find their
place in regimental histories. But the 6th Cavalry Brigade, which
throughout the war always consisted of three out of the same four
regiments, possessed a distinct corporate life.
The Royal Dragoons and the 10th Royal Hussars went to
Flanders together in October, 19 14. A month later they were
joined by the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The North Somerset
Yeomanry followed on 1 ^th November, 19 14. For a few days
all four regiments were in the Brigade together. Then the
10th Royal Hussars were transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade,
but remained in the 3rd Cavalry Division. From this date for
over three years the 6th Cavalry Brigade consisted of the
3rd Dragoon Guards, The Royal Dragoons, and the North
In March, 19 18, shortly before the German offensive, it was
decided to dismount a certain number of Yeomanry regiments and
the North Somerset Yeomanry were withdrawn for this purpose.
The 10th Royal Hussars returned to the 6th Cavalry Brigade in
their place. Three weeks later, when continuous fighting (mounted
and dismounted) had caused heavy casualties in the Brigade, the
North Somerset Yeomanry came back as re-inforcements. Their
regiment was broken up and their officers, N.C.O.s and men were
distributed among the 3rd Dragoon Guards, the Royals and the
10th Hussars. The cheerfulness and loyalty with which this order
was carried out by all ranks of the North Somerset Yeomanry is
worthy of record in the history of a great regiment.
" C " Battery, R.H.A., served with the Brigade throughout the
war, as also did the 6th Cavalry Field Ambulance, and with the
exception of the first few weeks the 13th Mobile Veterinary Section.
The 6th Machine Gun Squadron was formed early in 191 6 and
remained in the Brigade until both were broken up in March, 19 18.
It was felt, therefore, that a short account of the Brigade as
a whole would be of interest and value — of interest to those who
took part in the events recorded, of value in after years to the more
serious historian. Books giving personal reminiscences or
individual experiences of the war have been countless. As a true
description of what happened they are often inaccurate and mis-
leading. In the following pages no attempt has been made at
descriptive writing. Facts stated as accurately as possible speak
for themselves. Adjutants and all senior officers concerned have
had opportunity of reading this narrative at an earlier stage. My
thanks are due to them and to Lieutenant J. F. Houstoun-Boswall
for valuable help. The maps have been prepared by me from
those used in action. For permission to make use of the original
sketches from which Maps 1 and 2 have been coloured I am indebted
to Messrs. Thomas Nelson and Sons. If 19 18 claims a larger space
than other years, this is explained by the complicated character of
the fighting during the first five days of the German offensive in
March, 19 18, when the Brigade was divided up into so many
different units, necessitating a separate account of each.
From the earliest days of the war critics of the cavalry have
been neither few nor silent. In the minds of a large section of
the public there is the conviction that modern war rules out the
mounted man and that cavalry warfare as practised, for instance, at
the battles of Blenheim, Dresden, or even Rezonville is a thing of
the past. Spurs, it is maintained, are as prehistoric as the bow and
arrow. Such critics are ready enough to recognise the great achieve-
ments of our mounted forces during the retreat to the Marne, the
advance to the Aisne, in Palestine, Mesopotamia or elsewhere. But
they are under the impression that at any rate on the Western Front,
since the day when trench warfare began, cavalry have done nothing
except look after their horses in back areas. It is possible that the
bare record of what has been accomplished by a Cavalry Brigade
which did not cross the channel till after the battle of the Aisne
may help to dispel this mistaken view.
It would be probably true to say that during the war the cavalry-
man was on the whole the best trained all-round soldier in the British
Army. He could use a bayonet and he could throw bombs. His
musketry was of a high standard. He was proficient in the use of his
automatic rifle. He had his own machine gun squadrons. On
many occasions he took his place in the front line and knew that
he was often called upon to do so when the situation was critical.
In a word he was capable of performing and constantly did perform
all the duties of the infantryman. Between the periods of fighting
he was employed on constructing railway tracks, making roads, or
digging reserve trench systems. He was lent to this Army and to
that to perform whatever task was most needed. He was expected
to be ready at short notice to fight as a mounted man, and his training
as a cavalryman continued though often under great difficulties.
He was taught to ride his horse and to look after it. He knew
how to use his sword and was ready for shock action.
There was a time when the training of " Dragoons " to fight
on horseback was judged absurd. But the war has proved the value
of trained cavalry who can be used with equal effect as cavalry,
as a mobile reserve, or in an emergency as infantry pure and simple.
Examples of the employment of cavalry in all these three capacities
are to be found in the history of the 6th Cavalry Brigade.
One of the most brilliant purely cavalry exploits of the war
stands to the credit of this Brigade. On 24th March, 19 18,
a composite squadron consisting of one troop each from the
3rd Dragoon Guards, The Royal Dragoons, and the 10th Royal
Hussars was ordered to attack a large body of German infantrv who,
supported by machine guns, were holding a position in the open
near the village of Villeselve, a few miles South of Ham. The
primary object of the attack was to restore confidence to our infantry
who for three days had been retiring before overwhelming forces
of the enemy. A secondary object was the extrication of the
remnants of two battalions who were almost surrounded at Cugny.
The charge was made over six hundred yards of open ground in the
face of determined machine gun and rifle fire, both from the front
and from the flank. The last two hundred yards was over plough.
The enemy far from being demoralised had been taking part in a
victorious advance for several days. In spite of these facts the
charge met with complete success. As soon as the Germans saw
the British cavalry advancing with drawn swords and heard the men
cheering, their resistance wavered. Nearly a hundred Germans
were sabred, one hundred and seven were taken prisoners, and three
machine guns were either captured or destroyed. Our infantry
followed up the cavalry immediately and re-occupied the ground
which had been lost. The two battalions were able to withdraw
Other equally brilliant examples of what has been effected by
the resolute and skilful handling of cavalry are to be found in the
daring capture of Cayeux Wood by the 8 th Cavalry Brigade on
8th August, 19 1 8, and in the taking of Montigny, Troisvilles, and
other villages by the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in the advance to
Le Cateau on 9th October, 19 18.
During the war there have been numerous examples of the
employment of cavalry as a mobile reserve. Throughout the
fighting of October and November, 19 14, the 6th Cavalry Brigade
was seldom used in any other capacity. Regiments moved up
mounted to the threatened point, the horses were sent back, and
every available rifle was put into the line.
But perhaps the most outstanding example of the use of
cavalry as a mobile reserve occurred on 4th April, 191 8. Early
on that morning in the neighbourhood of Villers Bretonneux two
brigades of the 14th Division were completely overwhelmed by a
heavy German attack. The 6th Cavalry Brigade, two regiments
of which had bivouacked the night in the Bois L'Abbe and the third
at Fouilloy, was ordered to restore the situation. The three
regiments with their machine guns on pack moved up at a fast pace
and within a few minutes of leaving their bivouac reached the line
they had been ordered to hold. The horses were sent back and
our men immediately engaged the enemy with rifles and machine
guns. The Germans who till then were coming on unopposed in
large numbers were completely held up. Villers Bretonneux was
entirely undefended from the North-east until the cavalry arrived.
The loss of even a few minutes would have resulted in its capture.
Had the Germans gained a firm footing in Villers Bretonneux and
in the Bois L'Abbe which crowns the ridge to the West of the
villag-e, Amiens would have lain at their feet and the whole course
of the war might have been changed. It was a case for mounted
troops alone. Lorries carrying infantry could never have lived
on the only available roads, which were being heavily shelled, and
infantry moving up on foot (with machine gunners carrying their
Vickers guns) could not possibly have been in time to save the
It is unnecessary to enlarge on the frequent occasions on which
cavalry were entirely separated from their horses and put into the
trenches as infantry. Sometimes this occurred at a time of great
emergency. It would be impossible, for instance, to over-estimate
the value of the magnificent defence put up by the dismounted men
of the 6th Cavalry Brigade in the Ypres salient on 13th May, 1915*
It was one of the blackest, thouo-h one of the most glorious,
days in the history of the Brigade. Half buried early in the morning
as a result of the terrific bombardment, almost surrounded as the
day wore on by hugely superior forces of the enemy, our men beat
off every attack and throughout a day of unparalleled strain yielded
not one inch of ground. Again, during the first days of the German
offensive in March, 191 8, the Brigade fought dismounted for six
days in the neighbourhood of Chauny and did invaluable work.
At various intervals, also, throughout the war, the cavalry took
over a sector of the front for some weeks. Their organisation and
equipment was entirely different from those of the infantry. They
therefore evolved their own, and whether on the defensive or
offensive were adept in all that pertains to trench warfare. These
periods in the trenches and the absence of large numbers of the
men on digging parties threw heavy work on those who remained
in billets, and it became a matter of great difficulty to keep horses
and equipment in good condition. Preparations for mounted
operations had sometimes to be made at short notice, when perhaps
two thirds of the men had been away from their horses for many
weeks. The rapidity with which the Brigade could convert itself
from cavalry into infantry or from infantry into cavalry is a proof
of the adaptability of the cavalryman to all circumstances.
The experiences of the war prove that trench warfare may very
quickly develop into open fighting. It has often been pointed out
how far-reaching must have been the effect if, during the latter days
of March, 19 18, the Germans had possessed several well-trained
and well-mounted cavalry divisions. The theory that observation
from the air has taken the place of cavalry reconnaissance is denied
by none so emphatically as the airman himself. Information of
certain kinds can only be obtained by mounted troops.
In a word, however great the scientific developments of the
future may be, it is difficult to conceive of conditions of warfare
when cavalry reconnaissance will not be needed, when shock action
used at the right moment will not produce solid tactical results as
well as great moral effect, and when at times of crisis dismounted
action by the cavalry will not prove of immeasurable value.
The truth is that in a real emergency cavalry can always be
converted into infantrv. The reverse is far from being true.
J. B. B.
h istory of the
FORMATION OF THE BRIGADE
/ 1 1 HE history of the Brigade begins with the arrival 19 14
or* The Royal Dragoons (Lieut. -Colonel F. G. Steele)
and the 10th Royal Hussars (Lieut. -Colonel
R. W. R. Barnes, D.S.O.) at Ludgershall during the
latter part of September, 19 14. When the war
broke out both regiments were at Potchefstroom in
South Africa, where it so happened that they had been training
together for two years. The short time spent on Salisbury
Plain before the departure for Flanders was fully occupied
in completing men, horses and transport to strength. There
were a large number of time-serving soldiers in each regiment
so that few reservists were required. The 3rd Dragoon Guards
nominally formed part of the Brigade, but their sailing from
Egypt had been delayed.
Brigadier-General E. Makins, D.S.O., who had recently finished
his time as Colonel of The Royal Dragoons, arrived to take over
command on 21st September, Major B. D. Fisher (17th Lancers)
being Brigade Major and Captain H. Boyd-Rochfort (21st Lancers)
Staff Captain. Major Lord C. M. Nairne, M.V.O. (Royals) and
Captain J. J. de Knoop (Cheshire Yeomanry) were attached to
Brigade Headquarters as French and German interpreters
FORMATION OF THE BRIGADE
1 9 14 respectively. Lieutenant A. Peyton (nth Hussars) was A.D.C.
Captain Corfield (A.S.C.) was Supply Officer and Captain Towson
(9th Leinsters) Brigade Transport officer.
Both the Royals and the 10th Hussars had brought their horses
with them from South Africa, and there was considerable discussion
as to whether they should be exchanged for English horses. Lord
Kitchener sent for General Makins personally and suggested
mounting both regiments on horses to be drawn from the Yeomanry.
General Makins strongly maintained the South African ponies were
well trained and wiry and would quickly come round after the
voyage and become acclimatised. It was finally determined to keep
them — a decision which proved to be fully justified, because the South
African ponies throughout the war kept their condition far better
than English horses. As however there were not enough South
African ponies to mount the regiments when at full strength,
deficiencies were made up from the South Wales and South Midland
Mounted Brigades. These horses varied considerably in quality,
but on the whole were a sound lot.
On 28th September, H.M. the King inspected the Brigade at
Tidworth. The Royals were mounted on their African ponies, and
the 10th Hussars marched past on foot with naked swords, their
scabbards having been sent to the armourer to be " dulled."
On 4th October the 6th Signal Troop was formed with Captain
W. H. J. St. L. Atkinson (Royals) as Brigade Signalling officer.
The 6th Cavalry Field Ambulance, under command of Major
W. H. S. Nickerson, V.C., R.A.M.C., had already been formed
during September and drew medical equipment a few days before
leaving Ludgershall. Captain H. A. Ronn was the first officer to
join the 6th C.F.A. At a later date he was attached to the
3rd Dragoon Guards and was the only doctor to remain in the
Brigade throughout the war.
FORMATION OF THE BRIGADE.
Early on 6th October the Brigade entrained, the Royals 19 14
at Amesbury and the 10th Hussars at Tidworth. Most of
the mobilisation equipment and all the G. S. limbered wagons
had only arrived the previous day, and it was a matter of consider-
able difficulty to get harness fitted and other preparations made in
time. The Brigade embarked at Southampton. As the ships had
to be filled to their utmost capacity and the embarkation authorities
were not concerned about different units but only numbers, the.
troops were thoroughly mixed up. The headquarters of the
6th Cavalry Brigade were on the S.S. "Algerian " with Lord
Hugh Grosvenor's squadron of the 1st Life Guards, while
the headquarters of the 7th Cavalry Brigade were with a squadron
of the 10th Hussars. The 3rd Cavalry Division filled fourteen
transports, which early on the 7th were escorted to Dover, and then
to the Downs. Here the convoy waited till dark, when it steamed
under an escort of twelve destroyers to Ostend and Zeebrugge,
arriving orT the coast about 1.0 a.m. on the morning of the 8th.
The greatest care had to be taken in crossing the Channel, as the
convoy had to pass through an intricate mine field. During the day
the Brigade disembarked and camped on the Ostend race course,
being joined by headquarters and two squadrons of the Royals, who
marched from Zeebrugge (see Map 1 facing page 4).
It is interesting to recall that on 17th May, 181c, the Royals
landed at Ostend to take part in the campaign which ended at
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
f HE 3rd Cavalry Division, which consisted of the 6th
and 7th Cavalry Brigades (the latter commanded by
Brigadier-General C. T. McM. Kavanagh, C.V.O., C.B.,
D.S.O., and composed of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards
and Blues), was under Major-General Hon. J. H. G.
Byng, C.B., M.V.O. On embarkation the division was only five
cavalry regiments and one Royal Horse Artillery battery (" K ")
strong. Together with the 7th Infantry division under Major-
General T. Capper, C.B., D.S.O., it formed the nucleus of
the 4th Corps, which was commanded by Major-General Sir H. S.
Rawlinson, Bt., C.V.O., C.B.
As soon as it appeared certain that Antwerp could not hold out,
it was decided that these two divisions should cover the retirement
of the Belgian army through Bruges and Ghent, and then with the
Belgians and certain French troops hold the line of the Yser against
Von Beseler's army. The 7th Division, which had disembarked at
Zeebrugge two days before the 3rd Cavalry Division, was at Ghent
on 8th October. Antwerp fell the following day and the Belgian
retirement began, the 7th Division acting as rear-guard and the
cavalry covering the flank from which an attack might be expected.
On 9th October orders were received to entrain at noon for
Ecloo, but this was subsequently cancelled and at 1.30 p.m. the
Brigade marched towards Bruges and billeted in villages South-west
of the town, Brigade headquarters being at the Hotel Du Cheval
Pie in Bruges. The march was long and tedious, as the roads were
blocked with retiring Belgian troops and with refugees, motors and
traffic of all kinds.
"Map 3, facing pag;e 18, shows the area over which the 6th Cavalry Brigade was
operating throughout the First Battle of Ypres.
Map to show movements of 3rd Cavalry Division from October 8th— October 20th, 19 14
Forest of "MWfiuIsc
Bixschoore© p n<0 1--, ^TT ' /9 rf ,
aL Koeicapeiie/i' ©Iseghem
^^ r ©Passchendaele id*
$Q OZonnebeke If*
7 , / jSOGheluvelt/3^
//^* O #MENIN
D/recf/on 0/ off oca or Von 3esp/i>r's G>r/>J,
covenng oc/i/once of /our enf/re/y /res A corps.
Jctr/fi /„ Mifei
Position of" 3rd Cavalry Division, the early afternoon of October 20th.
I 9 I
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
The 3rd Cavalry Division together with the 7th Infantry 1914
Division came under the orders of* Sir John French on the
10th. The following day two armoured cars and one unarmoured
car, manned by marines, were temporarily attached to the
Brigade. Under command of Captain A. C. Charrington
(Royals) they surprised a German cavalry patrol south of Ypres,
capturing two officers and three men, who belonged to the 7th Jager
regiment. The nights of the 1 oth and 1 1 th were spent at Thourout,
and the 12th at Roulers, the Royals holding a protective line
outside the town. On 13th October the Brigade marched from
Roulers to Ypres. On the way an officer's patrol of the
1 oth Hussars ran into a German patrol on the outskirts of
Comines and had one man captured. At Ypres the Brigade
watered and fed in the market square, being the first British
troops to enter the town, which was at that time untouched
by shell fire. Uhlan patrols had visited the place three days
before and had looted all the jewellery and wine shops. The
Brigade moved on to Gheluvelt for the night, passing on the way
Hooge Chateau. The baron and his wife came out and told General
Makins what they knew with regard to the movement of German
troops. Early the following morning about two miles south of
Ypres a Taube flew over the Brigade at a fairly low altitude. The
men were ordered to fire. A bullet penetrated the petrol tank and
brought the machine down. The pilot and observer, both wearing
the Iron Cross, were captured in a neighbouring wood.
Throughout the 14th October the Brigade was in touch
with German cavalry on the line Kemmel — Wytschaete and
continual skirmishing took place. The Royal Dragoons, who
were leading with the armoured cars, drove strong Genrmn
patrols out of the Eastern edge of Neuve Eglise, while the
2nd Cavalry Division (3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades), with whom
communication had been established at La Clytte, advanced into the
village from the West. During the morning a party of seven
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 914 Uhlans suddenly crossed the road between the advanced guard
squadron and the main body of the Brigade. Captain De Knoop,
who was 25 yards away at the time, emptied his revolver at them
as they crossed in single file, but failed to hit any. A patrol of
10th Hussars with Captain De Knoop then chased them and
accounted for five. It turned out that this patrol had been driven
through the brigade column by the squadron of Captain T. W.
Pragnell (4th Hussars), who were acting as advance guard to their
regiment and had been ordered to push on and occupy, if possible,
Kemmel village and Mont Kemmel. The capture by the cavalry
of the commanding positions of Mont des Cats, Mont Noir and
Mont Kemmel during these days proved of inestimable value in
the subsequent fighting round Ypres.
The 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades bivouacked in Wytschaete
for the night. During the afternoon the 6th C.F.A. opened
a dressing station in the Cloth Hall at Ypres, but moved to
Wytschaete in the evening. The same day the light section
6th C.F.A. was almost captured in Dadizeele by a patrol of Uhlans
who suddenly appeared at the far end of the village.
On 1 5th October the 10th Hussars sent patrols to Holle-
beke and Zandvoorde in support of an armoured car reconnaissance,
and that night held a line Hollebeke — Houthem. The following
morning in a dense cold fog the Brigade again marched North
through Ypres to the St. Julien area, and billeted that night on the
Zonnebeke — Passchendaele road, the Royals camping inside the out-
posts of the 22nd Infantry Brigade who were at Zonnebeke. The
intention of the 4th Corps Commander was to advance on the
morning of the 1 8th and seize Menin with the idea of using it as
a pivot to make a flank attack against Courtrai and the line of the
Scheldt. On the 1 7th and 1 8th the Brigade sent forward squadrons
towards the Menin — Roulers road, and these at once came in touch
with the enemy, being continually engaged with strong Uhlan
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
patrols. The night of the 17th was spent at Zonnebeke and the J 9 T 4
1 8th at Passchendaele. Every precaution against surprise was
taken, roads being strongly picketed and standing patrols sent out.
At that time the line from the right of the Belgians as far as Menin
was held by the 7th Infantry and 3rd Cavalry Divisions alone. Had
the enemy broken through about Menin, not only the 4th Corps
but also the French and Belgian forces to the North would have
been cut off and the sea-coast towns must have been captured.
On 19th October "C" Battery R.H.A. (Major J. W. F.
Lamont), which had landed at Zeebrugge on 8th October, joined the
Brigade, and early that morning marched with the 10th Hussars to
Moorslede, where the Royals had billeted the night before.
October 19th was a critical day, during which the Brigade was
continuously fighting. Its role was (1) to protect the left flank
of the 7th Division in the event of its attacking Menin; (2) to
reconnoitre towards Winkel-St. Eloi (see Map 3 facing page 18).
The ioth Hussars were on the right in touch with the infantry,
and the Royals on the left of the 10th Hussars. It became
clear that we were opposed by large forces of the enemy, and
it was not found possible to develop the attack of the
7th Division. Moreover, the 7th Cavalry Brigade on the
left had not been able to reach the Roulers — Menin road, and
was ordered to fall back on the high ground North of
Moorslede. This left the 6th Cavalry Brigade in a somewhat
isolated position, and the Royals and ioth Hussars who
had advanced from St. Pieter and captured Ledeghem were com-
pelled to withdraw to the West of the village. Owing to the skilful
manner in which this retirement was carried out our casualties were
very small, although the German cyclist battalions, who were
attacking Ledeghem, were well trained, being extremely quick and
excellent shots. The Brigade finally gained touch with the Queen's
(Royal West Surrey Regiment). Thus " The Tangier Horse " and
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 9 14 "The Tangier Foot " joined hands once again in action.* Through-
out this operation " C " Battery gave valuable support from a
position two miles South-east of Moorslede. The enemy, using an
infantry brigade supported by several batteries, now launched a
determined attack on Rolleghem Cappelle, and succeeded in working
round on the left flank. The Brigade was obliged to withdraw
South-east of Moorslede, and finally took up a position on the left
rear in touch with a French cavalry division, and covering the
7th Cavalry Brigade as it moved back from Moorslede. Lieutenant
J. H. Leckie and Lieutenant H. E. F. de Trafford (Royals) were
wounded and ten men were killed. That night the Brigade billeted
at Poelcappelle. French Territorials were digging themselves in
on the Passchendaele Ridge.
Meanwhile, the 1st Corps had detrained at St. Omer and
marched to Hazebrouck, coming into position on the left of the
4th Corps by the 20th October.
At 4.30 a.m. on 20th, the Brigade entrenched a position with
commandeered tools West of the Westroosebeke — Passchendaele
road. The horses were some distance to the rear in hollows. The
enemy attacked at 8 a.m. The position, which was well covered by
" C " Battery, was held till noon, when the Brigade began to fall
back towards Pilkem owing to the retirement of the 7th Dragoons
(French) from Westroosebeke, which began about 11.30 a.m.,
leaving the left flank in the air. Captain A. C. Charrington
(Royals) was killed. During the afternoon fighting began afresh
by the enemy deploying an infantry column on Poelcappelle. That
night the Brigade which bivouacked near the Pilkem — Langemarck
* In the reign of Charles II. the acquisition of Tangiers as part of the dowry of
Catherine of Braganza led to the formation of " The Tangier Horse " and " The
Tangier Foot " for the protection of that place. On its return home the former
became " The Royal Regiment of Dragoons " and the latter " The 2nd or Queen's
Regiment." These two regiments, therefore, may justly claim to be among the
very earliest of our regular standing army.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
road stood to arms owing to a night attack on Langemarck, which 1914
The first battle of Ypres may be said to have started on
20th October, and the three weeks which follow constitute one of
the most critical periods of the whole war on the Western Front.
Only at two other periods, namely, during the retreat to the Marne
in the previous August and during the opening stages of the great
German offensive of 21st March, 19 18, was the situation equally
serious. The enemy were now to waste tens ot thousands of lives
in a fruitless attempt to win the Channel ports, which they could
have captured in September without firing a shot. It has been
pointed out* that there were four main avenues of attack : (1) against
the Belgians and French on the Yser, (2) against Haig's 1st Corps,
Rawlinson's 4th Corps (7th Division and 3rd Cavalry Division),
Allenby's Cavalry Corps (rst and 2nd Cavalry Divisions) and
Pulteney's ^rd Corps, holding the line from Ypres to Armentieres in
that order, (]) against Smith-Dorrien's 2nd Corps round La Bassee,
(4) against Maud'huy's 10th Army stretching from Vermelles to
Albert. The so-called first battle of Ypres was fought on a front
which extended roughly from Bixschoote to Armentieres (see Map 2
facing page 10).
Having drawn rations at Ypres during the morning of
2 1 st October, and offsaddled there for a short time, the Brigade was
ordered about midday to fill a gap at the two canal crossings near
Hollebeke between the right of the 7th Division and the left of
Gough's 2nd Cavalry Division. The 4th Hussars under Lieut. -
Colonel P. Howell were found holding one of these crossings. This
position was occupied till 7 p.m., when orders were received to take
over trenches from the Scots Guards at Zandvoorde. This was
the first occasion on which the Brigade had been definitely separated
from its horses. The trenches of the Scots Guards had been well
* Nelson's History of the War. — John Bcchan.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 9 14 dug (for those days) and were deep and narrow, but the line held
by the Brigade (650 rifles strong) was longer than that held by the
Guards. It extended from Zandvoorde village to the canal East
of Hollebeke chateau, the chateau itself being occupied by the
Germans. Brigade headquarters arrived at Zandvoorde at 8 p.m.
in the pitch dark and the relief was complete by 1 1 .0 p.m. That
day Captain R. F. Glyn (Royals) joined the Brigade as trans-
At 7.0 a.m. on 22nd October the Germans began shelling
Zandvoorde and Brigade headquarters, and the led horses were
removed to the outskirts of the village. Hollebeke chateau was
shelled by " C " Battery in conjunction with Commander Sampson's
naval gun. " C " Squadron of the Royals, which had been with-
drawn from the line for the purpose, then occupied the chateau,
meeting with little opposition. x-\bout this time a German wireless
was intercepted. This wireless, which ordered an attack on
Zandvoorde, made it clear that the enemy on this sector had
been reinforced by four entirely fresh Corps (which were afterwards
proved to be the 21st, 22nd, 26th and 27th Reserve Corps). The
Brigade was reinforced by a double Company of the Kings, while
two infantry battalions were held in readiness. The day passed
fairly quietly, but there was heavy firing at 8 p.m., and again at
midnight when the enemy attempted to attack but was easily
repulsed. Lieut. -Colonel R. W. R. Barnes, D.S.O., Major Hon.
C. B. O. Mitford and Captain G. C. Stewart (10th Hussars), and
Lieutenant Talbot (" C " Battery) were wounded. Three men
were killed and ten wounded. The Royals were relieved at 9.0 a.m.
on the 23rd by the 7th Cavalry Brigade, but the 10th Hussars, who
were in full view of the enemy, could not be withdrawn till the
On the 24th two motor ambulances were attached to the
6th C.F.A. for the first time, and were used in spite of the roads,
which were very bad, to evacuate wounded to Ypres.
Map to show position of the 3rd Cavalry Division on October 21st and subsequent
days until it was hurried North on October ?ist to till gap at Hooge.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
The Brigade bivouacked at Kleinzillebeke till the 25th, when 19 14
at 5.30 p.m. it took over the same trenches at Zandvoorde from the
7th Cavalry Brigade. That day the 3rd Cavalry Division came
under orders of the Cavalry Corps (Major-General E. H. H.
Allenby, C.B.). At 8 p.m. the enemy (strength about 500) attacked
and were repulsed. About midday on the 26th, General Makins
was informed by General Byng that the 1st Corps, the Cavalry Corps
and the 7th Division were to make a general advance about 3 p.m.
that afternoon. Owing, however, to the difficulties in which the
7th Division found itself, the advance was suspended. The centre
of the 7th Division was driven back and the Gordon Highlanders
on the left of the 10th Hussars had their left flank exposed. Early
on the 27th, however, the line was rectified by a brigade of the
1 st Corps which came up in support. Shelling continued through-
out the day, but there were no further attacks. Captain Sir F. S.
Rose, Bt., and Lieutenant C. R. Turnor (10th LIussars) were killed
and Lieutenant R. H. W. Henderson (Royals) was wounded.
The evening of the 26th has been called the end of the first
phase of the first Battle of Ypres. The main feature of the Allied
strategy during the previous month had been the intention of
turning the German right flank. In face, however, of the over-
whelming reinforcements which the Germans threw on to this
flank, the plan failed. But the chief result of the severe fighting
of this period was that a comparatively firm line had been established
by the Allies from Switzerland to the sea-coast.*
At 5 p.m. on the 27th the Brigade, less one squadron and
machine gun section of the Royals, who were left in the chateau, was
relieved and returned to Kleinzillebeke. On the 28th the first
draft of men for the Royals arrived from England. This draft
* For an interesting and more or less official account of the First Battle of Ypres
from the German point of view read " Die Schlacht an der Vser und bei Vpern im
Herbst, 1914" published by the General Headquarter Staff of the German Army.
Number 10 in the series " Der Grosse Krieg" (Stalling: Oldenburg).
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 914 was called " First Reinforcements," the numbers of which were laid
down in regulations and arranged before leaving England.
At 4.30 a.m. on 29th October, the Brigade stood to. Heavy
tiring was heard and the Germans, who were advancing in great
force, succeeded in pushing back the line North of Zandvoorde.
Orders were received to assist the 7th Division in a counter attack.
The Brigade moved forward in touch with General Lawford's
22nd Brigade (2nd Queens, 2nd Warwicks, 1st Royal Welsh
Fusiliers and 1st South Staffords), which was advancing on the line
Gheluvelt — Kruseik. The 10th Flussars advanced dismounted
through the woods. There was only slight opposition and the line
The whole situation on 30th October was extremely critical.
It is estimated that at least twelve German Corps opposed the seven
Corps of the Allies on the sector Nieuport — La Bassee. If the
enemy had penetrated the line at any point North of Hollebeke
they would have succeeded in isolating the 1st Corps. It was
decided that the line from Gheluvelt to the angle of the canal South
of Kleinzillebeke must be held at all costs.
At dawn on the 30th October the 7th Cavalry Brigade were
shelled out of their position, and were forced to withdraw from
the Zandvoorde ridge towards Kleinzillebeke. The Brigade was
ordered out to cover their withdrawal and occupy a line of trenches
East of Kleinzillebeke. The 10th Hussars were on the left and
the two remaining squadrons of the Royals on their right
in support of the 3rd squadron in the chateau of Hollebeke. A
strong infantry attack accompanied by heavy shelling developed
along the whole front. The squadron in the chateau was very
hard pressed. " C " Battery had an excellent target, catching the
enemy in the open as they crossed the Zandvoorde ridge. Owing
to the loss of the high ground about Hollebeke village the Royals
were forced to abandon Hollebeke Chateau and, after repulsing
several attacks and taking a heavy toll of the enemy, withdrew
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
Northwards with their right on the railway and their left connecting 1914
with the remainder of the Brigade, who in spite of continued attacks
held on to its trenches. The 3rd Hussars and Royal Scots Greys
came up in support. The 3rd Hussars were employed on the
North of the Zillebeke— Zandvoorde road in support of the left of
the 7th Cavalry Brigade. The Greys were not used. At 7 p.m.
two battalions of the 4th Guards Brigade arrived and began to take
over the trenches. The relief was completed by 2.30 a.m., and the
Brigade bivouacked on the Southern outskirts of Zillebeke. A
message was received from the Commander-in-Chief, congratulating
the Brigade on the great fight it had put up all day in the face of
During this action Lord Charles M. Nairne (Royals), Captain
Kinkead, R.A.M.C. (attached 10th Hussars) and 2nd-Lieutenant
Burn (Royals) were killed. Lieutenant A. Peyton (A.D.C.), Major
B. E. P. Leighton, Lieutenant C. G. W. Swire and Lieutenant
H. M. P. Hewett (Royals), Major C. W. H. Crichton, Captains
the Hon. H. Baring, E. A. Fielden and G. C. Stewart (10th Hussars)
were wounded. Captain H. Jump (Royals) was missing. He was
so severely wounded it was found impossible to move him from
Hollebeke Chateau and he was captured.* Twelve men were killed,
37 wounded, 3 wounded and missing, and 4 missing.
The real crisis came on 31st October.
Gheluvelt was heavily shelled early in the morning, and about
10.30 a.m. the enemy covered by artillery made a strong attack
against the 1st Division (North of the Ypres — Menin road), who
suffered severe casualties and were driven back. This exposed the
left flank of the 7th Division. Allenby, whose dismounted cavalry
with a few Indian reinforcements held the line from Kleinzillebeke
to South of Messines, was also in great difficulties. At 7.^0 a.m.
* During the period of so-called "reprisals," Captain Jump (Royals), who belonged
to a regiment of which the German Emperor had been Colonel-in-chief up to the
outbreak of war, was singled out for particularly severe treatment.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1914 that morning the Brigade marched to a rendezvous in the woods
half a mile South of Hooge and came under the orders of Sir
Douglas Haig (G.O.C. 1st Corps). At 1 p.m. the Brigade
entrenched a position East of Hooge, as a report was received that
the infantry in front were retiring, and it was hoped to form a line
behind which they could rally. The situation could hardly have
been more serious and Field-Marshal Sir John French (as he then
was) has since stated that it seemed to him at that moment as if
the last barrier between the Germans and the sea-coast had been
broken down. But the 1st Division, who had fought magnificently
in the face or great odds, rallied, and at 3 p.m. orders were received
by the 6th Cavalry Brigade to support the left of the 2nd Infantry
Brigade in the woods, South-east of Hooge. The Royals and two
squadrons of the 10th Hussars advanced dismounted through the
woods with fixed bayonets. A large number of Germans were
killed or wounded, and the attack proved a complete success both
here and along the whole sector.
" C " Battery gave valuable support throughout these
operations. One gun was pulled by its crew right into the woods
and came into action against a small shooting lodge where the enemy
had concealed some machine guns. These were effectually silenced.
The 6th C.F.A. had a dressing station near the H. in Halte
(afterwards known as Hell Fire Corner) on the Ypres — Hooge road,
and though heavily shelled were fortunate in having very few
About noon on the 1st November, orders were received to
march to the road junction on the Hooge — Kleinzillebeke road and
support the 2nd Infantry Brigade, who were being hard pressed.
One dismounted squadron of the 10th Hussars supported the left
of the line and two squadrons of the Royals filled a gap on the right
caused by the Irish Guards being forced to fall back.
Captain W. O. Gibbs (10th Hussars) and Lieutenant G. Pitt-
Rivers (Royals) were wounded, 2 men were killed and 9 wounded.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
During this and the three following days the Brigade was used as 19 14
a mounted mobile reserve, being constantly called upon both by
night and day to turn out in support of some part of the line which
was threatened. It remained in rear of Lord Cavan's 4th Guards
Brigade (2nd Batt. Grenadier Guards, 2nd Batt. Coldstream Guards,
3rd Batt. Coldstream Guards, 1st Batt. Irish Guards) throughout
2nd November. Lieut. - Colonel R. W. R. Barnes, D.S.O.
(10th Hussars), was again wounded that day. Throughout
the 3rd November Ypres was heavily shelled, and the town was then
practically deserted by all civilians except the few who continued to
inhabit the cellars.
On 4th November, at 6.30 p.m., the 3rd Dragoon Guards
(Lieut. -Colonel O. B. B. Smith-Bingham, D.S.O.) marched in from
Cassel and joined the Brigade (strength, 28 officers, 530 N.C.O.s
and men, and 597 horses). Nincty-hve remounts and a draft for
the 10th Hussars also arrived.
On the evening of the 5th the Brigade (1,200 rifles and
5 machine guns) took over the trenches of the 3rd Infantry Brigade
in the woods half a mile South of Veldhoek. The finding of this
number of rifles taxed the resources of the Brigade to its utmost
capacity. But it was imperative that the men should be provided,
though it entailed leaving one man to look after fifteen to twenty
horses. The relief was completed by 9.30 p.m., the 3rd Dragoon
Guards and 10th Hussars being in the firing line, the Royals in
reserve. " C " Battery, all led horses and transport were in a farm
some three kilometres behind, but one gun of the battery was taken
up immediately behind the front line to drive enemy snipers from
some houses. This gun fired at dawn at 250 yards range and did
good execution. That night about 10.30 p.m. a fire broke out in
a barn close to Brigade headquarters, and the whole building was
burnt to the ground. Five men were killed and 8 injured.
During the afternoon there was considerable hostile shelling,
but no attacks followed. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were rein-
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 9 14 forced by two troops of the Royals and one machine gun. At
1 1 p.m. the Brigade was relieved by three battalions of the
9th Infantry Brigade, and returned to the horses. The casualties
were Captain J. F. Hodgkinson (died of wounds) and Major
E. R. A. Shearman (10th Hussars), Captain G. R. Kevill-Davies
and Lieutenant H. R. Talbot (3rd Dragoon Guards) wounded.
Twenty men killed and 45 wounded.
On 7th November, General Makins was forced to proceed to
Boulogne owing to sickness. He had been very unwell for some
time, and it was only the critical nature of the fighting which deter-
mined him to stay as long as possible. Lieut. -Colonel O. B. B.
Smith-Bingham, D.S.O. (3rd Dragoon Guards), took over temporary
command of the Brigade. During the day the Brigade again moved
up in support of Lord Cavan, and bivouacked at a farm North-east
of " Halte " On the evening of the 8th a dismounted party (220
3rd Dragoon Guards, 300 Royal Dragoons, and 2 machine guns)
under Lieut. -Colonel G. Steele (Royals) took over the trenches of the
3rd Infantry Brigade between Zillebeke and Kleinzillebeke. The
same day a heavy shell burst close to two ambulances of the
6th C.F.A. at Zillebeke, where a dressing station had been
established. Both teams bolted. One was eventually stopped,
but the other was last seen galloping straight into the enemy lines,
neither horses nor ambulance ever being seen again.
On 9th November, Lieut. -Colonel D. G. M. Campbell
(9th Lancers) took over command of the Brigade. Captain R. F.
Glyn was appointed A.D.C.
That night Colonel Steele's party was relieved by the
7th Cavalry Brigade. On the 10th November the whole Brigade
turned out to support Lord Cavan's line, a party of 300 10th Hussars
and 200 Royal Dragoons under Major Shearman subsequently
taking over the same trenches from the 7th Cavalry Brigade.
Lieutenant S. B. Horn (3rd Dragoon Guards) was wounded.
On the 11th and 12th the 3rd Dragoon Guards again turned
/ 7U u> ty> I -feme ia/ ■ ^ l Q> f t € tfa*n/i6e£ , ^ r ^ 3 \J
a?zr/ a/fe tafia ~crJ f/u. 2/ ' ^' -t /.•-/ -1 / c ? <_
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
out in support of the Guards Brigade, and on relief by a regiment 19 14
of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, a party of 300 3rd Dragoon Guards
and 100 Royal Dragoons, under Colonel Smith-Bingham, relieved
Major Shearman's detachment. Sniping was very bad during these
two days. Major Hon. W. G. S. Cadogan (10th Hussars),
Captain T. P. Dorrington (Royals), Lieutenant H. R. Talbot
(3rd Dragoon Guards) and seven men, including R.S.M. King
(10th Hussars), were killed. Captain E. W. E. Palmes (10th
Hussars) and 36 men were wounded.
At 2 p.m. on 1 3th November the North Somerset Yeomanry
(Lieut. -Colonel G. C. Glyn, D.S.O.) marched in from Dranoutre and
joined the Brigade (strength 26 officers, 467 N.C.O.s and men,
and 498 horses).
During the 13th and early the following day the enemy shelled
the bivouac, two men and 30 horses being killed and six men and
45 horses wounded. The Brigade (less " C " Battery) moved back
in consequence to some farms South ot Vlamertinghe, Colonel
Smith-Bingham's detachment in the trenches having been relieved
by the 7th Cavalry Brigade.
On 1 5th November the Brigade, having marched to Ypres
railway station, from where the horses were sent back, found
300 rifles per unit for the trenches : (1) 300 3rd Dragoon Guards
and 200 North Somerset Yeomanry under Colonel Smith-Bingham
to relieve the 7th Cavalry Brigade in the trenches on the Zillebeke —
Kleinzillebeke road, (2) 300 Royal Dragoons and 200 10th Hussars
under Colonel Steele to relieve the 2nd Cavalry Brigade on the left
of Lord Cavan's line and East of Zillebeke, (3) too 10th Hussars
and 100 North Somerset Yeomanry under Major Shearman in
dug-outs in rear of Lord Cavan's headquarters. During the t 6th
there was desultory sniping but little shell fire. Captain Hon. A.
Annesley (10th Hussars) was killed.
At 9.0 a.m. on the 17th November the sector held by Colonel
Smith-Bingham's detachment was subjected to heavy and continuous
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 9 14 shell fire, and at 1.0 p.m. an infantry attack developed against his
right and centre. The enemy who belonged to the Prussian Guard
advanced with gallantry, coming to within 20 yards of" our trenches.
But the attack was repulsed with heavy loss to the Germans,
" C " Battery's fire being very effective during their retirement.
Shortly afterwards these trenches underwent a second bombardment,
and at V45 P- m - another infantry attack took place, this time against
the left of Colonel Smith-Bingham's line, held by " C " Squadron
3rd Dragoon Guards and "B" Squadron North Somerset Yeomanry,
who suffered heavily in officers and men. The fire trenches
were reinforced by " B " Squadron 3rd Dragoon Guards and
"A" Squadron North Somerset Yeomanry, who came up from
support, where their place was taken by two Companies of the
Coldstream Guards. This attack, which proved the most deter-
mined of the two and was also made by the Prussian Guard, was
likewise repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy. It was estimated
that between 350 and 400 dead Germans lay out in front of the
trenches held by the Brigade. The Prussian Guard advanced so
close to our trenches, in front of which there was no wire, that the
Field Police could be seen threatening their men and urging them
on to the attack.
In the vicinity of the trenches held by " C " Squadron
3rd Dragoon Guards, there was a farm building which the enemy
had succeeded in occupying. Twice it was attacked by
" C " Squadron, the attacking party in each case being either killed
or wounded. At the third attempt, which was led by Captain
Wright, the farm was captured, Captain Wright himself shooting
four Germans with his revolver. This officer, who was killed
shortly afterwards by a shell, was subsequently recommended for
the Victoria Cross.
About t 2 noon the same day an attack was also delivered against
the line held by Colonel Steele's detachment. The enemy massed
under cover of a farm in front of the sector held by the 10th Hussars.
Map to illustrate period October 1 9 th— November 17th, 191 4-
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
This movement was reported by Lieutenant the Hon. Julian Grenfell 191 4
(Royals), who had carried out a most daring reconnaissance in front
of the German trenches. The attack was repulsed about 1.45 p.m.,
the enemy losing heavily.
Colonel Smith-Bingham's and Colonel Steele's detachments
were relieved by the 7th Cavalry Brigade and by the 1st Battalion
Hertfordshire Regiment, T.F., respectively. The casualties were :
Captain E. Wright, Lieutenant E. W. Chapman (3rd Dragoon
Guards), Captain C. H. Peto, 2nd-Lieutenant R. F. Drake (10th
Hussars) and Captain F. Liebert and 2nd-Lieutenant J. S. Davey
(North Somerset Yeomanry) were killed. Captain P. D. Stewart
(3rd Dragoon Guards), 2nd -Lieutenant W. P. Browne (Royals),
Captain S. G. Bates (7th Hussars, Adjutant North Somerset
Yeomanry) and 2nd Lieutenant Bailward (North Somerset
Yeomanry) were wounded. R.S.M. Stewart (3rd Dragoon Guards)
and 40 N.C.O.s and men were killed, 85 N.C.O.s and men were
wounded, and three men missing.
That night the Brigade returned to the horses, which were
brought up to the Square in Ypres, and then went into bivouac South
The following day a congratulatory telegram on the behaviour
of the Brigade was received from the G.O.C. 1st Corps.
It is clear even from this simple record of events that the
Brigade had been almost continuously in action since its arrival in
Flanders. Owing to the lack of reserves scarcely a day or night
passed, when the Allied line was not in imminent danger. In the
face of the immense numerical superiority of the enemy no real rest
either for men or horses was possible. Even when the Brigade was
withdrawn for a few hours, it always had to be ready to turn out
in instant support of whatever troops needed assistance. The
mobility afforded by the horses enabled the cavalry to be moved
quickly to whatever was the threatened point, when the horses were
sent to the rear and the men thrown into the line as infantry.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
1 9 14 The work done during these weeks of continuous fighting in the
neighbourhood of Ypres forms a record of which the Brigade may
well be proud.
On 20th November the Brigade marched into billets South-east
of Hazebrouck, Brigade headquarters being at Les Lauriers. The
march was made on foot owing to a heavy fall of snow and a hard
frost, which made the roads almost impassable. The 3rd Dragoon
Guards and North Somerset Yeomanry did not arrive until nearly
midnight, while some of the transport only came in next day.
The following Special Order of the Day was issued by Major-
General the Hon. J. H. G. Byng, C.B., M.V.O., commanding the
3rd Cavalry Division : —
" In circulating the short diary* of the operations in which the
" Division has taken part, I wish to take the opportunity of conveying
" to all ranks my gratitude and admiration for their conduct. With
" little or no experience of trench work, exposed to every vagary of
" weather, and under a persistent and concentrated shelling, the
" regimental officers, N.C.O.s and men have undertaken this most
" arduous and demoralising work with a keenness and courage which
£( I place on record with the greatest pride.
" With the exception of 30th October, when the Zandvoorde
" trenches, held by the Household Cavalry, and the Chateau de
" Hollebeke, held by a squadron of The Royal Dragoons, were
" attacked by a German army corps, no trench has been lost and no
" ground evacuated. On eight occasions Brigades were sent in
" support of the line which had been partially penetrated, and on
" nearly every occasion either I or one of the Brigadiers have received
" the thanks and congratulations of the Commander of that zone of
" defence for the gallant behaviour of our troops.
" The 6th Cavalry Brigade may well be proud of their action at
"St. Pieter on 19th October; Kruseik, 26th October; Chateau de
;; This diary, with the Special Order of the Day, was published in The Times of 16th
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES
" Hollebeke, 30th October; Hooge Woods, 31st October; and 1914
" Zillebeke trenches on 17th November; while the actions of the
" 7th Cavalry Brigade at Oostnieuwkerke, 16th October; Moorslede,
" 19th October ; Zonnebeke, 21st October ; Zandvoorde, 26th
" October; Zandvoorde trenches, 30th October; Veldhoek, 2nd
" November; Kleinzillebeke, 6th November, have been the subject
" of official recognition and well-merited praise.
" Each Regiment, Battery, Royal Engineers, and Signal Squadron
" and Administrative and Medical Service has more than maintained
" its historic reputation, and during the last six weeks has added to
" the renown of the British soldier as a magnificent fighter, and it is
" with the utmost confidence in their steadfast courage that I contem-
" plate a continuance of the campaign until our enemy receives his
" final overthrow."
(Signed) J. Byng,
Commanding 3rd Cavalry Division.
23rd November, 1914-
On arrival in the Hazebrouck area the 10th Royal Hussars,
amid general regret, were transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade.* 1
On 23rd November the first allotment of 72 hours' leave to
England was sanctioned.
With regard to this period of comparatively open warfare,
there are a few points which it is perhaps worth recording. The
country over which the fighting took place was very enclosed, and
cut up by many dykes. The going was extremely heavy. The
The 8th Cavalry Brigade which now became part of the 3rd Cavalry Division
consisted of the Royal Horse Guards, the 10th Royal Hussars, and the Essex
Yeomanry. The Leicestershire Yeomanry took the place of the Royal Horse
Guards in the 7th Cavalry Brigade.
FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES.
1 9 14 Brigade therefore moved by the roads if" it was possible, and
generally had one squadron only in advance. Flank protection,
if considered necessary, was provided by patrols marching on
parallel roads. The country was full of spies and every precaution
against surprise at night had to be taken. It was usually dark
by the time the Brigade arrived at the village where it was to billet.
Telegraph wires and telephone exchanges had to be inspected and,
if dangerous, dislocated. Roads were blocked and standing patrols
placed some few hundred yards outside the village. A central
alarm post was selected, and its whereabouts made known to all
ranks. Villages were almost always shelled early in the morning,
and a start at dawn avoided many casualties. The supply arrange-
ments worked well. Although rations often arrived in the middle
of the night, they never failed to come up. The three motor
cyclists attached to Brigade headquarters proved invaluable. With-
out them communication both to the front and to the rear would
have been almost impossible. The casualties during this period
were: officers, 16 killed, 26 wounded, 1 missing; other ranks,
104 killed, 305 wounded, 20 missing.
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
FROM the 20th November, 19 14, to the 23rd April, 191 5,
during which period the Brigade was first in billets South-east
of Hazebrouck, and then (from 28th January onwards) in the
Steenbecque — Thiennes — Blaringhem area, there are only a few
events which need to be recorded.
On 2nd December H.M. the King, accompanied by the Prince
of Wales and Field Marshal Sir John French, inspected the Brigade.
The 3rd Cavalry Division lined the Hazebrouck — La Motte road,
the King walking between the lines and inspecting the troops.
On 14th December the Brigade turned out mounted and
marched to a point about one and a half miles beyond Bailleul on the
Locre road. This movement took place in order that the Brigade
might be in readiness to support an attack which was to be made
North of Armentieres. The night was spent at Bailleul, the men
being in glass-houses and the horses in the open. After " standing-
to " at half-hour's notice on the 1 5th, the Brigade returned to the
Les Lauriers area the following day.
During this month French interpreters were attached to the
Brigade for the first time. Of the many, who at one time or
another formed part of the Brigade Adjutant De Lambertye served
on Brigade Headquarters for almost the whole period of the war.
Others who were on the strength of the various units for a consider-
able time were M. des Logis de la Vigerie, Lacaze, de Blacas,
Bonnet, Percy Carter, de St. Mars, Tinant, d'Heursel, Valadon
At 2 p.m. on 3rd February, the Brigade (strength, 3rd Dragoon 191 5
Guards 250 rifles, the Royals 250 rifles, North Somerset Yeomanry
250 rifles, 8 machine guns) " embussed " at Steenbecque and
travelled to Ypres, arriving in the Grand Place at 9 p.m. Much
delay on the road was caused by the transport of the 16th French
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
1 91 5 Corps which was moving South. The men were billeted in three
streets South of the Grand Place. At 10 p.m. on the 4th, and
during the morning of the 6th, the town was shelled, but there
were no casualties. On 8th February the regiments paraded in
Ypres at three-quarter-of-an-hour intervals and marched to the
trenches, taking over a sector of 1,200 yards from the 7th Cavalry
Brigade one mile South-east of Zillebeke. Seven squadrons with
seven machine guns occupied the front line. The other three
squadrons with one machine gun were in support 1 50 yards behind
the right of the 4 line. Brigade headquarters were with these
supports. On the left of the Brigade were the 10th Hussars
(now with the 8th Cavalry Brigade) and on the right the
28th Division of the 5th Corps. The reserves were supplied by
the 77th French Infantry Regiment, and the supporting artillery
On the 10th the support dug-outs were shelled during the
afternoon and bombs were thrown into the Royals' trenches.
Signs of sapping were observed opposite The Royal Dragoons
and North Somerset Yeomanry. The trenches, which varied
in distance from the enemy by 20 to 250 yards, were in a
very wet state. There was no continuous trench system. At night
enemy snipers appeared to be both in front and behind, and the
bringing up of rations to " Cavan's " dug-out was a matter of con-
siderable difficulty. Enemy trench mortars began to be active, but
were effectually silenced by French " 75's." Snow and rain made
the conditions still more unpleasant. During this period in the line
it was often possible to hear military bands playing in the woods
behind the enemy's trenches.
On 11th February the Germans shelled Ypres with 6-inch
howitzers. The billets in the town which had quite recently been
occupied by the Brigade, were badly hit. The 1st Life Guards,
who were occupying them at the time, unfortunately suffered heavy
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
On the i ith Captain E. L. Gibbs (North Somerset Yeomanry) 191 5
was killed, but with this exception casualties were extremely light.
The Brigade was relieved on the evening of the 13th by the
4th Cavalry Brigade (3rd Hussars, Carabiniers, and Oxfordshire
Yeomanry), and returned by bus to the Steenbecque area.
On nth March the Brigade marched to the vicinity of La
Motte, where the 3rd Cavalry Division concentrated. Later in
the day the Division, which formed a mobile reserve to the 1st Army
during the attack on Neuve Chapelle, moved into billets North and
East of Merville. Having " stood-to " saddled up all day on
the 1 2th, the Brigade returned to billets in the Steenbecque area.
" C " Battery remained North of Kemmel village, covering
a North Midland Territorial division from the end of March to
the beginning of May. On one occasion during this period the
Battery was issued with some so-called incendiary shells as an
experiment, and was ordered to set Petit Bois alight. The shells
were duly fired, but with no result.
On 23rd April began twelve days of continuous marching and
counter marching through the country West of Ypres in support
of the French and British line, which was in danger of being broken
owing to the first use of gas by the enemy.
The Brigade marched that day to Abeele, being much delayed
en route by buses which were bringing up the 25th French Corps
from St. Pol. On 24th April, after billeting at Eecke, the
Brigade marched to Vlamertinghe, where the whole division
The first gas attack took place on the evening of 22nd April
and the second attack on the morning of 24th April.
The Brigade spent the night at Boescheppe, and the
following day marched North to a point West of Poperinghe,
and then to Houtkerque. On the 26th the Brigade remained
off-saddled near St. Jans der Biezen, and at 9 p.m. marched to a
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
191 5 point near Poperinghe, where the horses were picketed and a dis-
mounted party marched into huts near Vlamertinghe. On the 27th
these huts were shelled and also "A" echelon in Vlamertinghe. At
9 p.m. orders were issued (but subsequently cancelled) for the
dismounted party to move to Brielen, a report having been received
that the Turcos were retiring in disorder over the pontoons on the
Yser canal. The following morning the dismounted party rejoined
the horses, and that night the Brigade marched to the St. Jans der
Biezen area, where it remained till 2nd May. On 2nd May the
Brigade concentrated West of Poperinghe, off-saddled, waited all
day, and then moved into the Proven — Watou area. At 5.30 p.m.
on 3rd May the Brigade moved to a point 2 miles South-east of
Poperinghe, where the horses were picketed, and a dismounted party
marched to a field West of Ypres, remaining in reserve till 5 a.m.,
during which time the British line was beino- withdrawn from
Zonnebeke to conform with the French. On 4th May the whole
Brigade returned to the Proven — Watou area.
The same day Captain H. C. L. Howard (16th Lancers)
became Brigade Major vice Major B. D. Fisher, D.S.O.
(17th Lancers) appointed G.S.O.2, 1st Cavalry Division.
The following afternoon a dismounted party of 500 men went
up to Ypres to assist the 5th Corps in making defences East of
the town. During this work, which was carried out on the Lille
road by night, one man was killed and Lieutenant J. A. Garton
(North Somerset Yeomanry) and R.S.M. Shakespeare (North
Somerset Yeomanry) were wounded. This party having rejoined
early on the morning of 6th May, the Brigade marched back to the
Proven — Watou area, and the following day returned to Steenbecque.
At 5.30 a.m. on 9th May, a message was received that the
3rd Cavalry Division had been placed at the disposal of the
2nd Army, and at 12.45 P- m * tnc Brigade (strength : 850 all ranks,
each squadron with three officers) travelled in 34 buses to a point
West of Vlamertinghe, from where they marched on foot to the
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
huts. The ioth and iith May were spent in huts. The final 1915
stages of the second battle of Ypres had begun, and the Cavalry, as
often before, were called in at the critical moment.
At 8 p.m. on 12th May, the Brigade moved on foot through
Ypres to the railway crossing 700 yards North-west of Bellewaarde
Farm, and took over from the 80th Infantry Brigade the line of
trenches which ran from Bellewaarde Lake, past Bellewaarde Farm,
to the railway line about 600 yards due North of the farm. On
the right the North Somerset Yeomanry, with 300 rifles, occupied
the line as far as Bellewaarde Lake, the 3rd Dragoon Guards with
311 rifles continuing to the left. The Royals were in support in
dug-outs in Railway Wood, where also was Brigade headquarters.
The 6th C.F.A. established an advanced dressing station in a house
about half-a-mile West of Bellewaarde Farm. The 7th Cavalry
Brigade continued the line Northwards from the railway to
Verlorenhoek (see Map 4 facing page 28).
At 1 a.m. on 13th May, a message was received from the
3rd Cavalry Division that the G.O.C. 5th Corps wished it to be
clearly understood that the line now held by the 1st and 3rd Cavalry
Divisions must be maintained at all costs, and should the enemy
gain a footing at any point in this line, a counter-attack must at
once be made.
The whole position was in a very poor state of defence. Heavy
rain had fallen during the previous twenty-four hours. The men
were wet to the skin and caked with mud. In many places the
trenches were shallow and needed repair. If attempts were made
to deepen them, water appeared. The supply of sandbags had run
out. There were no communication trenches worth speaking of.
The wire was very inadequate and in parts of the sector non-existent.
The support trenches were equally poor. There was no proper
communication between the left of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and
the right of the Leicester Yeomanry. The field of fire was every-
where very limited.
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
iQK Under these circumstances and in the time available it was
impossible to do much, but the greatest efforts were made during
the night to improve the trenches, to gain communication to the
flank and generally to strengthen the position.
At 4 a.m. a very heavy bombardment began. The
8oth Infantry Brigade was informed by telephone, and artillery
support asked for. By 4.45 a.m. the 3rd Cavalry Division head-
quarters and all headquarters in the rear except the 99th Battalion
were cut off from telephonic communication. At 5.15 a.m. the
bombardment stopped for half-an-hour and then recommenced.
At 7 a.m. a verbal message was received from the 3rd Dragoon
Guards that owing to the Brigade on their left being forced back,
their position was extremely precarious. Their line, however,
never changed. It remained the same throughout the day. The
Germans who appeared to have got round to the left rear were
engaged by our men who tired over the parados.
General Campbell despatched a staff officer to inform the
80th Infantry Brigade and the 3rd Cavalry Division of the situation,
and ordered the Royals to push forward two troops towards the
high ground between Railway Wood and the advanced line, with
a view to using it as a pivot of manoeuvre. The remainder of the
Royals took up a covering position with two troops detached to
watch the right flank. All these movements, which were carried
out in the most gallant manner, took place under a terrific fire.
At 8 a.m. a report was received from the left of the
3rd Dragoon Guards that the enemy attack had been repulsed, but
that our casualties had been severe. At 8.35 a.m. the North
Somerset Yeomanry reported that after heavy shelling the enemy
had attacked along their whole front, that the attack had been
repulsed, but that the trenches occupied by the right squadron had
been practically destroyed. In the event of a further attack the
O.C. 3rd King's Royal Rifles had arranged to carry out an immediate
Map illustrating positions held by 6th Cavalry Brigade during second battle of Ypres, May, 191^
A= Position at 4.1 5 .i.m. 13th May, lwi
B= Position at 4.0 a.m. 14th May, 1915.
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
A message was despatched to the 3rd Cavalry Division saying 191 5
that the 6th Cavalry Brigade were still holding their original line,
but that the Leicesters had been heavily counter-attacked and forced
to give a little ground. Reinforcements were required. This
message never reached Divisional headquarters, and was repeated at
1 1 a.m., when the bombardment became less. About noon the
Germans were seen collecting in a farm in front of the line and
later between this farm and the railway. The artillery were
Shortly after 1 p.m. the Royal Horse Guards arrived, and
Lieut. -Colonel Lord Tweedmouth, D.S.O., M.V.O., reconnoitred
the ground and consulted with General Campbell about the
direction of his counter-attack, which was to be made in con-
junction with the whole of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. At
1.20 p.m. The Royal Dragoons were sent to reinforce the North
Somerset Yeomanry, and a little later the general situation was
explained to the G.S.O.2 of the 3rd Cavalry Division. One
Company of the Royal Irish Fusiliers now arrived, and two platoons
were sent forward to reinforce the 3rd Dragoon Guards. At 2 p.m.
our artillery opened a heavier fire and at 2.30 p.m. the Blues
counter-attacked. The objectives were reached, but all trenches
had been entirely destroyed by the enemy's bombardment and
afforded no cover against the terrific artillery fire which now opened
again on the troops in the front line. At 4.25 the other two platoons
of the Royal Irish Fusiliers were sent up. At 6.20 p.m. about
85 reinforcements arrived for the Royals. All three officers of
this party became casualties on the way up. At 8.4^ p.m. the
3rd Dragoon Guards moved up about 40 yards to their left, and the
line was held as follows : — 3rd Dragoon Guards, 50 North Somerset
Yeomanry, 60 Royal Irish Fusiliers, 40 North Somerset Yeomanry,
and The Royal Dragoons (in touch with 3rd King's Royal Rifles).
It is impossible to convey any idea of the severity of the
bombardment to which the Brigade had been subjected throughout
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
1915 the day. The trenches were almost entirely obliterated early in
the morning, and numbers of the men were practically buried alive.
Though it was quite impossible to consolidate the position or to
organise any regular defence in the face of this terrific fire, the
Brigade gave no ground. In spite of desperate casualties small
bodies of the men held on to their original position until dark.
The enemy were unable to make any substantial advance at all.
The 6th C.F.A. were heavily shelled throughout the day, and
it was impossible to evacuate any wounded down the Ypres — Hooge
road till after dark. At 1 1 p.m. the O.C. 3rd King's Royal Rifles
received orders to take over the line from his left to Bellewaarde
Lake, the Royal Irish Fusiliers taking over the remainder of the
6th Cavalry Brigade line to the railway.
This relief was completed by 2.30 a.m. on the 14th, and the
Brigade occupied a new line which ran in a North-westerly direction
from Railway Wood towards the Ypres — Zonnebeke road. The
3rd Dragoon Guards (160 rifles) were on the right, the Royals
(186 rifles) in the centre, and the 10th Hussars (80 rifles) who
came under orders of the G.O.C. 6th Cavalry Brigade on the
left. The North Somerset Yeomanry were placed under orders
of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. To the left the line was continued
by the 9th Cavalry Brigade. The trenches now held by the Brigade
had been begun by Durham Light Infantry Territorials, who had
only had an hour to work on them, and they were therefore shallow,
unfinished and unconnected.
The 14th May passed comparatively quietly. At 7 p.m. the
3rd Dragoon Guards and The Royal Dragoons sent out a series
of posts to cover the digging of a more advanced line which was
to run about 400 yards beyond the one then occupied.
At 9.30 p.m. relief by the 5th Cavalry Brigade began, and
regiments arrived back at Vlamertinghe in the early hours of the
1 5th May. Captain R. Houstoun (Royals) took over temporary
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
command of the North Somerset Yeomanry, all the senior officers 191 5
of that regiment having been either killed or wounded.
On 1 6th May 12 officers and 194 other ranks came up to
Ylamertinghe as reinforcements and a similar number returned to
billets. During the next three days the Brigade formed Nos. 1, 2
and 3 mobile reserve in its turn. Digging: parties under Captain
G. R. Kevill-Davies (3rd Dragoon Guards) and Captain Hon. C.
Annesley (Royals) worked on trenches East of Ypres on two nights.
On 2 1 st May the Brigade returned to billets. A few days
later reinforcements of officers and men arrived, and the regiments
were busy reorganising. The casualties were very severe. The
following officers were killed : —
Brigade Headquarters: — Captain W. H. J. St. L. Atkinson
(Royals, O.C. 6th Signal Troop). 3rd Dragoon Guards: —
Captain T. V. T. T. Neville, Captain E. R. Coles. The
Royal Dragoons: — Captain H. M. Lambert, Lieutenant J. H.
Leckie, Lieutenant G. K. Bagshawe, 2nd-Lieutenant N. F. Browne.
North Somerset Yeomanry: — Major W. R. Campbell, D.S.O.
(14th Hussars, attached North Somerset Yeomanry), Captain S. G.
Bates (7th Hussars, Adjutant North Somerset Yeomanry), Captain
R. E. English.
The following officers were wounded: —
Brigade Headquarters: — Brigadier - General D. G. M.
Campbell, Captain R. F. Glyn (Royals), Captain J. J. de Knoop
(Cheshire Yeomanry). 3rd Dragoon Guards: — Lieut. -Colonel
O. B. B. Smith-Bingham, D.S.O., Captain L. V. Owston, Captain
C. G. Leslie, Lieutenant H. A. Grimshaw, Lieutenant J. S. Stewart.
The Royal Dragoons: — Lieut. -Colonel G. F. Steele, C.M.G.,
Major P. E. Hardwick, Captain E. W. T. Miles, Captain Hon.
J. H. F. Grenfell, D.S.O. , Lieutenant A. W. Waterhouse,
Lieutenant W. Williams YVynn, 2nd-Lieutenant A. W. Ackroyd.
North Somerset Yeomanry: — Lieut. -Colonel G. C. Glyn, D.S.O.,
Major H. G. Spencer, Major H. B. Matthews, Major G. Lubbock,
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
191 5 Lieutenant G. E. Longrigg, 2nd-Lieutenant B. F. Hogg,
2nd-Lieutenant L. C. Gibbs, 2nd-Lieutenant R. Willis.
Colonel Steele and Captain Grenfell died a few days later in
hospital — an irreparable loss to their regiment. Of the N.C.O.s
and men 78 were killed, 217 were wounded, and 5 missing.
The Brigade received official thanks for the part it had played
in this, the second battle of Ypres. The value of the stand made
by the cavalry during the desperate fighting of 13th May can hardly
be exaggerated. Once again disaster was staved off by the cavalry
who fought on foot and proved as good as the best infantry.
Though the fighting may not have been so important from the
strategical point of view as the first battle of Ypres, yet the bombard-
ment to which our troops were subjected was far more severe. The
preponderance of German artillery and the use of gas made it a time
of great strain and anxiety. Though our casualties were heavy,
those of the enemy were equally so, and the determined attempts
he made to break through the British line were brought to a stand-
still. The Ypres salient though diminished in size was still held
by the Allies.
At 1.0 p.m. on 29th May, the Brigade (strength: 39 officers,
772 rifles, and 7 machine guns) proceeded to Vlamertinghe in
j6 buses, and that evening moved up on foot to Ypres, taking
over trenches from the 3rd Cavalry Brigade. The 3rd Dragoon
Guards were astride the Ypres — Menin road nt Hooge, having one
squadron to the North and two to the South of the road. On
their left were the King's Dragoon Guards. The Royals were
on the right of the 3rd Dragoon Guards in Sanctuary Wood,
and on the right of the Royals was the 8th Cavalry Brigade.
The North Somerset Yeomanry were in support. In the line with
the Brigade was a Trench Mortar detachment, armed with an old
gas pipe trench mortar. The personnel was found by "C" Battery,
R.H.A., and was commanded by Lieutenant E. H. Mann.
Brigadier-General C. B. Bulkeley Johnson was in command of the
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
sector, Major A. Burt (3rd Dragoon Guards) commanding the left 191 5
sub-sector, which consisted of the 6th Cavalry Brigade and
5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
The village of Hooge was surrounded by small gardens with
outhouses and hedges. The high grass and undergrowth along
the whole sector harboured many snipers. Sanctuary Wood was
thick with undergrowth and lay on fairly high ground, while Zouave
Wood, which joined it, sloped down gradually towards the North.
Early on the morning of 31st May Lieutenant F. B. Katanakis
(3rd Dragoon Guards) pushed forward with his troop from the
Chateau stables towards the Chateau, from which on his approach
several Germans bolted. But owing to the heavy shelling which
began about 7.0 a.m. he was forced to withdraw again to the stables.
During the day the front line held by the 3rd Dragoon Guards and
Royals was almost blown in and the houses on the Western side
of Hooge were destroyed. That evening, however, Lieutenant
Katanakis again reconnoitred the Chateau and it was occupied at
9.30 p.m. Shortly afterwards the King's Dragoon Guards arrived
and began to dig in.
On 1st June Lieut. -Colonel J. A. Bell-Smyth (King's Dragoon
Guards) took over command of the left subsector from
Major Burt. Hostile shelling was fairly heavy in the morning
Throughout 2nd June the 3rd Dragoon Guards' trenches,
especially South of the Ypres — Men in road, were subjected to a
severe bombardment. Part of the line had to be temporarily
evacuated, but was immediately re-occupied when the shelling
stopped. At midday several parties of the enemy attempted to reach
our lines, but were mostly killed by rifle and machine gun fire from
both sides of Hooge. At 3.30 p.m. the enemy again attacked,
this time moving towards the junction of the 3rd Dragoon
Guards' and Royals' trenches, but effective fire from machine
guns and the trench mortar on the left of the Royals' line
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
i 91 5 brought them to a standstill. The 3rd Dragoon Guards, who had
suffered heavy casualties, were relieved that night by the
1st Lincolns, and marched to the ramparts.
The fighting on 2nd June may be considered the last serious
attempt of the Germans to break through our defences at Hooge.
It was the final stage of the second battle of Ypres.
Nothing worthy of note occurred after this date, and on the
night of the 5th-6th June the Brigade was relieved and returned
to permanent billets by the evening of the 6th.
The 3rd Dragoon Guards had one officer killed, 2nd-Lieutenant
A. C. Clifford, and four wounded, Captain G. R. Kevill-Davies,
Captain P. D. Stewart, Lieutenant W. Black, and Lieutenant H. H.
Dadson. 2nd-Lieutenant A. Hopkinson (Royals) was wounded,
and also Lieutenant R. O'Kelly, R.A.M.C. (attached North Somerset
Yeomanry). Of the other ranks, 42 were killed, 1 1 5 wounded,
and 4 missing, by far the greater proportion belonging to the
3rd Dragoon Guards.
On 6th June Captain H. Boyd-Rochfort (21st Lancers) was
appointed Brigade Major 9th Cavalry Brigade, and Captain S. G.
Howes (21st Lancers) became Staff Captain of the 6th Cavalry
Brigade. About this time Captain R. S. Stancliffe (2nd Life
Guards) joined Brigade Headquarters as Brigade Signalling Officer.
On 1 8th June Lieut.-Colonel M. R. C. Backhouse^ D.S.O.,
assumed command of the North Somerset Yeomanry. Major
H. D. McNeile had already taken over command of The Royal
During the two following months the Brigade remained in the
Steenbecjque — Thiennes — Boesighem area. Large digging parties
were sent to Neuve Eglise, Sailly, and Elverdinghe.
At the end of July Major J. F. Lamont (on promotion) handed
over command of " C " Battery to Captain R. C. F. Maitland.
Early in August the Brigade moved into the area Febvin-
Falfart, Ncdonchelle, Estree Blanche.
SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES
On 13th August a large digging party (23 officers and 631 191 5
other ranks) went by motor bus to Armentieres and began work
on a line which ran from the Faubourg des Jardins to the Lys
On 13th September Captain H. C. L. Howard (16th Lancers)
was appointed G.S.O.2 Cavalry Corps, and Captain R. Houstoun
(Royals) became Brigade Major of the 6th Cavalry Brigade.
1 91 5 f """^ N 20th September the Brigade left permanent billets to
,take part in the Loos offensive. The 3rd Cavalry
'Division (less 7th Cavalry Brigade) came under orders
of Sir Douglas Haig (G.O.C. 1st Army) on that day.
The Brigade marched during the night to the Bois des
Dames and remained there in bivouac till the 25th.
Officers from each unit reconnoitred cavalry tracks on the 23rd.
On the morning of the 25th September the Brigade "stood-to "
at 5.30 a.m., and at 8.45 a.m. moved off to Vaudricourt, where it
halted in the park of the chateau. Here the first news arrived of
the success of the infantry attack, the capture of the first line of
German trenches and the taking of Loos. The original attack was
made by the 4th Corps (Sir Henry Rawlinson) : the 47th Division
on the right, the 15th Division in the centre astride the Lens —
Bethune road, the 1st Division on the left.
At 11.0 a.m. the Brigade moved off at a fast pace along the
cavalry track to Philosophe, situated at the point where the railway
cuts the main Lens — Bethune road about 1,000 yards South of
The situation seemed somewhat obscure, and Captain C. E. R.
Holroyd-Smith and Lieutenant G. R. B. Harries (3rd Dragoon
Guards) were sent on to patrol towards Loos. Captain N. K.
Worthington and Lieutenant G. K. Benton (3rd Dragoon Guards)
were sent out in the direction of Lone Tree, and Lieutenant Hon.
W. H. Cubitt, Lieutenant R. B. Helme (Royals) and Captain A. B.
Mitchell (North Somerset Yeomanry) reconnoitred cavalry routes in
the event of the Brigade moving forward. Captain Holroyd-
Smith's patrol reported that our infantry were engaging the enemy
on Hill 70 and had just taken Puits 14 Bis, and Captain
Worthington's patrol reported our infantry were held up at Lone I 9 1 S
Tree. They further reported that the Germans seemed to be
surrendering freely, but that the general situation still remained
obscure. It subsequently appeared that the Highland Brigade of
the 15th Division had succeeded in reaching the outskirts of Cite
St. Auguste, but were unable to hold Hill 70. The 3rd Cavalry
Division formed the only available reserve at that time.
The Brigade remained where it was for the night. The horses
were picketed in the open. Officers and men had some shelter in
a row of artisans' cottages. During the evening the 2ist and 24th
Divisions (who with the Guards Division formed the 11th Corps)
came up to relieve the 1st and 15th Divisions. Rain fell heavily
The morning of 26th September was misty and wet, but soon
became fine. Patrols were again sent out (Lieutenant Hon. \Y. H.
Cubitt to Bois Hugo and Lieutenant F. B. Katanakis towards the
At 11.30 a.m. the- 3rd Dragoon Guards and The Royal
Dragoons (each about 260 rifles strong) were ordered to move
forward dismounted and occupy the old German front line trenches
which ran about 1,500 yards North-west of Loos. The North
Somerset Yeomanry remained in reserve with the led horses.
The ground between Vermelles and Loos was covered with
all the debris of war. Our dead lay in every direction. Many
of the men had been shot in the act of running forward and now
lay face downwards, arms outstretched, one leg in the air. The
wire in front of the German line was found to have been well cut
by our artillery. The trenches, which were provided with many
excellent dug-outs, were full of equipment, bombs, flares and gas
cylinders. The smell of gas was still very strong. Major P. G.
Mason, D.S.O. (3rd Dragoon Guards), was killed while in these
l 9 l 5 The situation on the afternoon of 26th September was
extremely critical. The 24th Division, who had made what was
at first a successful attack was obliged to give ground, and the
21st Division, finding itself opposed by strong German reinforce-
ments, was also driven back. These two Divisions, who were
composed of inexperienced troops, had been called upon to march
long distances before being thrown into their first fight. More-
over, they had been a considerable time without rations and fresh
water. They now became thoroughly disorganised and began to
come back in large numbers. The Chalk Pit North of Hill 70
was lost and also the ground towards Benifontaine and Hulluch.
Hill 70 became a salient and our hold on it extremely precarious.
It was quite possible that, had the enemy attempted a determined
counter-attack, Loos itself might have been retaken. There were
no immediate reserves except the 3rd Cavalry Division and the
Guards Division (the latter only arrived at Philosophe about 6 p.m.
It was under these circumstances that at 3 p.m. General
Campbell was ordered to occupy Loos with two regiments, as
the infantry appeared to be retiring, and it was uncertain
whether the place was in our hands or not. The Brigade fixed
bayonets and advanced by three long " bounds " down the slope
into the village, the 3rd Dragoon Guards on the right, the
Royals on the left. The line was shelled as it advanced, but
there were no casualties. One shell started up a hare, which was
caught on a bayonet by a sergeant. On the way Lieut. -Colonel
H. D. McNeile (Royals) collected about 300 Highlanders and other
parties of infantry, who returned to Loos and helped in its defence.
On arrival in the village it was found that parties of our infantry
still held the South-western and North-western entrances. The
Brigade at once took up a position running, roughly, through the
Eastern outskirts of the village. At about 5 p.m. 18 Germans
came out of a farm opposite the 3rd Dragoon Guards headquarters
Map showing position held by the 6th Cavalry Brigade on the night 26th-2?th September, 191 5 (before being reinforced by the 8th Cavalry Brigade)
Jca/e in Yarc/j
and surrendered. The area round the church was heavily shelled 19 15
The 6th C.F.A. established an advanced dressing station in
the best of the houses on the Loos road just West of our old front
line, and as soon as it was dark all available motor ambulances were
sent down into Loos to evacuate both cavalry and infantry wounded.
At 11.30 p.m. General Campbell, who had received orders on
no account to vacate Loos, requested General Briggs* to send up
the North Somerset Yeomanry in support, as the force at his disposal
was inadequate, the infantry he had collected being hungry,
exhausted and unfit to fio-ht.
At midnight the North Somerset Yeomanry, who earlier in
the evening had been ordered to occupy trenches about 1,500 yards
East of Le Rutoire, arrived at Loos and took up a position on the
left of the Royals, joining up on their left with the Guards.
" C " Battery was brigaded under orders of the C.R.H.A., 3rd
Cavalry Division, and was in position near Les Brebis to cover a
counter-attack should it succeed in penetrating to Bully Grenay.
At 2.30 a.m. on 27th September, General Briggs arrived with
the 8th Cavalry Brigade and took over command from General
Campbell. The 6th Cavalry Brigade then occupied a shorter line.
The 3rd Dragoon Guards on the right were in touch with the Blues.
" C " Battery was in position near Fosse 7. The infantry were
all relieved and sent back.
At 3.45 p.m. on the afternoon of Monday, 27th September,
the bombardment became intense on both sides, and at 4 p.m. the
Guards Division attacked Hill 70, Puits 14 and the Chalk Pits.
The machine guns of the Brigade supported this attack. After
* Some months previously (on 7th May, 1915) General Brings had taken over com-
mand of the 3rd Cavalry Division from General Byng, who now commanded the
Cavalry Corps in place of General Allenby. General Allenby commanded the 5th
Corps instead of General Plumer who had taken over the 2nd Army from General
1 91 5 the attack the Guards dug in in front of Chalk Pit Wood and on
the slopes of Hill 70.
Throughout the night, which was very wet and dark, the
Brigade continued to improve the defences of the village. Trenches
were wired, roads barricaded, and work was begun on a central keep.
Every preparation was made in case of a counter-attack, but this did
not take place, though there was much wild firing from the enemy
lines. At 4.30 a.m. on 28th September, Lieutenant W. O. Berryman
(Royals) with three men went out to get the situation from Hill 70
to the Chalk Pits, and on his return was able to give a clear report
as to the position of the enemy. Other useful reconnaissances were
made by 2ndTJeutenant A. W. Wingate (Royals) and 2nd-
Lieutenant A. B. P. L. Vincent (3rd Dragoon Guards). Much
valuable information was thus given to the Guards.
Loos was heavily shelled before midday and in the afternoon.
During the period the Brigade was in the village, German
soldiers were constantly found hiding in the cellars. Some had been
lying there wounded for two or three days, as was also the case with
a few of our own infantry. Loos was a remarkable sight when the
Brigade first entered it. German and British dead encumbered the
streets. Quantities of R.E. stores and equipment of all sorts were
found. The canteens were well stocked, and comfortable dug-outs
littered with the belongings of their late owners proved with what
haste the village had been vacated. Many of the cellars were
connected up by telephone, and until they were all cleared, there
can be no doubt that communication was maintained with the
enemy by wounded men. One German was actually found, shortly
after the arrival of the Brigade, operating a telephone line to the rear.
At 3.45 p.m. on 28th September, the Guards attacked Puits 14
from the Chalk Pits and again the machine guns of the Brigade
co-operated. That night rain fell in torrents. At 11.30 p.m.
relief by the infantry began, and early on 29th September the
regiments marched back to the horses, which were just North of
Mazingarbe. The same day the Brigade moved back to the Bois 191 5
des Dames, where it remained in bivouac till 3rd October.
The garrisoning of Loos and the taking over the line East
of that place by the 6th Cavalry Brigade and later by the rest of
the 3rd Cavalry Division, undoubtedly saved what was a dangerous
situation. The 1 5th Division, thoroughly tired out, had been with-
drawn from the line and after the retirement of the 24th and 21st
Divisions the Germans would have found practically no troops to
oppose them, if they had made a resolute counter-attack. The
1 cth Division was again put back and did magnificently, and the
arrival of the dismounted cavalry steadied the whole line.
The casualties were: — 3rd Dragoon Guards: killed, Major
P. G. Mason; wounded, Lieut. -Colonel O. B. B. Smith-Bingham,
Lieutenant F. B. Katanakis, 2nd-Lieutenant W. B. Hathorn; other
ranks: killed 11, wounded 30, missing 5. The Royal Dragoons:
killed, Captain A. H. D. Chapman; other ranks: killed, 2,
wounded 14, missing 1. North Somerset Yeomanry: wounded,
Major W. B. Stewart (Lothian and Border Horse, attached North
Somerset Yeomanry), 2nd-Lieutenants E. A. Green, M. H. Tisdall,
G. Babington, A. G. Little. Captain W. L. C. Kirby (1 2th Lancers,
Adjutant, North Somerset Yeomanry) was also wounded; other
ranks: wounded 11, missing 1.
From 3rd October to 19th October the Brigade was in the
Ferfay — Cauchy-a-la-Tour — Raimbert area. Captain R. Houstoun
(Royals) was evacuated seriously ill from Ferfay, and Captain W. T.
Hodgson (Royals) was shortly afterwards appointed Brigade-Major.
On 19th October the Brigade moved into the district round Laires,
and two days later went into permanent billets, Brigade headquarters
being at Honinghem, and the regiments round Nedonchelle, Ligny-
les-Aire and Amettes. The Battery was at Laires, the 6th C.F.A.
During this month Major-General J. Yaucrhan, C.B., D.S.O.,
assumed command of the -jrd Cavalrv Division.
19 1 5 At the end of October reinforcements of 2 officers and
100 other ranks arrived for the 3rd Dragoon Guards and The Royal
Dragoons, which brought the establishment of each regiment up to
26 officers and 651 other ranks.
During November digging parties were sent to Sercus,
Ouderdom and Poperinghe. Captain R. C. F. Maitland, on
getting command of a New Army Field Battery, handed over
command of " C " Battery to Major A. E. Erskine.
On 17th November the Brigade moved into a new area.
Brigade headquarters were at Royon, 3rd Dragoon Guards Offin,
Loison, the Royals Crequy, Torcy, North Somerset Yeomanry
Hesmond, Lebiez, " C " Battery Sains-les-Fressin, the 6th C.F.A.
During December a digging party under Major P. E.
Hardwick (Royals) went to Lynde, where work was done on the La
Belle Hotesse. By the end of the month all the various digging
parties had returned to billets.
On 20th December the Brigade suffered a very great loss by
the death of Lieut. -Colonel H. D. McNeile (Royals), who was
accidentally killed by a fall from his horse.
A few days later Lieut. -Colonel F. W. Wormald, D.S.O.
(8 th Hussars) took over command of The Royal Dragoons.
THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT
ON 27th December orders were received to form a dis- l 9 l S
mounted Division and to remain in billets on short
notice. The Brigade formed a battalion known as
the 6th Battalion. Each of the three regiments
found a company of 320 all ranks and a machine gun
detachment of 4 guns and 42 all ranks. Battalion headquarters was
55 all ranks, making a total of 1,141 all ranks for the battalion. The
7th and 8 th Cavalry Brigades formed the 7th and 8 th Battalions, under
Lieut. -Colonel E. H. Brassey, M.V.O., and Lieut. -Colonel
Lord Tweedmouth, D.S.O., M.V.O., respectively, and these with
the 6th formed the 3rd Dismounted Brigade, commanded by
Brigadier-General C. B. Bulkeley-Johnson, D.S.O. The 1st and
2nd Cavalry divisions each found a brigade, and these with the 3rd
formed the dismounted division, under Major-General Sir Philip
W. Chetwode, Bt., D.S.O.
"On 3rd January, 19 16, the 6th Battalion, under Lieut. -Colonel 1916
A. Burt (3rd Dragoon Guards) entrained at Maresquel at 5.30 a.m.
and left for Fouquereuil, from where it marched into Bethune and
billeted in the Orphanage. On 4th January the Battalion moved
into billets at Sailly-la-Bourse and remained there until 9th January.
During these few days various digging and carrying parties were
found. The North Somerset Yeomanry furnished a complete
company as working party, and were billeted in Noyelles-les-
Vermelles, being attached to the R.E.s. On 8th January the machine
guns, brigaded under Captain J. D. Deane Drummond (Blues), moved
into the line and the following day the 3rd Dismounted Brigade
relieved the 1st Dismounted Brigade in Sector D. The 6th Battalion
was in reserve, the 3rd Dragoon Guards Company being in
Lancashire Trench, the North Somerset Yeomanrv Company at
Vermelles, and the Royals Company at Sailly-la-Bourse.
THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT
1 91 6 On nth January the 6th Battalion relieved the 7th Battalion
in the front line (Di sub-sector) from the Kai serin to " the
Window." The Royal Dragoons, under Captain T. S. Irwin,
took over from the 2nd Life Guards on the left, the 3rd Dragoon
Guards from the 1st Life Guards on the right. The North
Somerset Yeomanry were in support at Junction Keep and
Lancashire Trench. The sector held by the Battalion was com-
plicated by numerous saps and craters. The distance separating
the two front lines varied from 1 50 to 40 yards, but in many cases
there were not more than 20 to 25 yards between sapheads or from
a saphead to a crater. At some points, notably round the Kink,
the front line consisted merely of a series of saps. There was much
mining and counter-mining. Our front line suffered little from
hostile shelling. The chief trouble was from trench mortar and
rifle grenade fire, and the saps were so close to each other that
bombing attacks by both sides were of frequent occurrence. The
whole sector was overlooked by Fosse 8, a long slag heap called
the Dump. This Dump had been captured in the attack of 25th
September, 19 1 5, but had been retaken by the Germans the following
Enemy snipers were active, and the first day a party of North
Somerset Yeomanry bombers bombed and destroyed a sniper's post
and brought back the sniper's box. Another sniper who was in
the habit of lying out behind a dead German was also dealt with.
On the morning of 12th January Captain A. W. Waterhouse
(Royals) was killed by one of the few shells that fell into the front
line, the same shell killing a sergeant (Sergeant S. W. Futcher,
Royals) and a sentry.
Every night much work was done. Patrols and snipers went
out, new wire was put up, saps improved, new support trenches
begun, communication trenches which were unusually long (it being
2,000 yards back to Vermelles) deepened and revetted, sniper's
posts, listening galleries, and machine gun emplacements made.
THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT
When enemy trench mortars became unduly active they were 1916
effectively silenced by the accurate shooting of our horse batteries.
"C" Battery covered the sector opposite the Hohenzollern Redoubt.
A section of guns was put out at Le Rutoire under Lieutenant
Chapman, and was able to do some excellent work sniping. Though
under direct observation from " the Dump " and shelled by all
manner of enemy artillery, these guns escaped untouched for three
At 8.10 p.m. on the evening of 14th January, our guns and
trench mortars, together with rifle and hand grenades, were con-
centrated on an enemy working party which was in the habit ot
coming to a point near Sap 3. The enemy tried to bolt from the
crater near Sap 2 and many were observed to fall.
The enemy artillery then became very active for 45 minutes.
Our batteries were extremely quick in retaliation, only taking
6 seconds from the time they received orders to open fire.
A proportion of our machine guns were in the front line.
Those which were in support continually carried out indirect fire
on the Dump, Auchy-les-la-Bassee, and other tactical points.
On 15th January the 6th Battalion was relieved by the
2nd Dismounted Battalion, and General Campbell took over
command of the 3rd Dismounted Brigade three days later. General
Vaughan also relieved General Chetwode.
On 2 1st January the 6th Battalion went into support.
At 6.5 a.m. on 23rd January, our engineers exploded a mine
under the new German trench near Saps 6 and 7. Just before the
mine was sprung the enemy were heard working in their mine only
a few feet from our mine-head. It is believed that some enemy
machine guns were also destroyed. The enemy succeeded in
occupying the crater and throughout this period in the trenches, the
6th Battalion who took over the line a few hours later experienced
much trouble from this crater, which was only 25 yards from our
sapheads. During 24th January we trench-mortared the crater,
THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT
j 91 6 and at 8.45 p.m. that night an officers' patrol (Captain C. E. R.
Holroyd-Smith, 3rd Dragoon Guards) went out from Sap 6, recon-
noitred the near edge of the crater, and pulled down several of the
loophole plates. A second officers' patrol under Lieutenant J. G.
Biggs (North Somerset Yeomanry) entered the crater, found it had
been put into a strong state of defence, and brought away some arms
and equipment for identification purposes.
At 4 p.m. on 27th January, the Kaiser's birthday, the enemy
opened a very heavy bombardment on our front and support lines.
It stopped at 5.15 p.m. At 5.20 three hostile bombing parties
emerged from the German front line in the vicinity of the Kink.
One of these parties consisting of 5 bombers made for Sap 4. Our
men who saw them allowed them to come on. The leading German
lowered himself into our sap and began to advance down it. On
rounding a bend he was killed by revolver fire : the second was
also killed on the top of our parapet : two others were killed by
rifle fire as they attempted to get back through our wire : the fifth
regained his line. Another party of ten Germans advanced towards
Sap 3. They were all exterminated by bomb and rifle fire before
they reached this sap. Of the third party, the three leading Germans
only had emerged from a small sap South of Bill's Bluff, when they
were blown up by one of our shells. No more Germans emerged
from this sap.
On 28th January the Battalion was relieved. On 1st February
General A. A. Kennedy took command of the 3rd Dismounted
Brigade from General Campbell, and two days later General Mullens
relieved General Vaughan in command of the cavalry line.
On 2nd February the Battalion again took over the same sector
of front line, but the situation remained extremely quiet.
Numerous patrols were sent out and we gained complete superiority
in sniping. On 8th February the 6th Battalion was relieved and
returned with the remainder of the 3rd Dismounted Brigade to
permanent billets. " C " Battery remained in the line till
Map showing trenches held by
6th Cavalry Brigade, January and February, 191 6
ISr^ik »*" crater ' "-»>/' >. "\. /^i ^\.
j THE i
1 QUAffft/ES J
\ f J /
THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT
28th February, and then had a very difficult march back to Sains- 191 6
les-Fressin, owing to snow and frost.
Casualties suffered by the Battalion during this period were : —
}rd Dragoon Guards : other ranks, 6 killed, 21 wounded, 1 died of
wounds. The Royal Dragoons : Captain A. W. Waterhouse killed,
Lieutenant R. B. Helme wounded; other ranks, n killed,
■59 wounded, 5 died of wounds. North Somerset Yeomanry : other
ranks, 3 killed, 1 <; wounded, 1 died of wounds. Brigade Head-
quarters : Captain G. Sartorius (6th Cavalry), brigade machine gun
(Royals) became Brigade Major of the 6th Cavalry Brigade.
1 91 6 f ™^^ N 29th February the machine gun section (4 guns)
I was withdrawn from each of the three regiments,
'and the 6th Machine Gun Squadron was formed as
a separate unit for training, discipline and employ-
ment in the field.
The advisability of forming Cavalry Machine Gun Squadrons
had been under discussion for some time. The infantry had found
machine gun companies an advantage in every way. Owing to
the development of indirect fire machine gunnery was rapidly
becoming a highly complicated and expert business. With regard
to the cavalry, there can be no doubt that as far as training and
dismounted trench warfare were concerned, the creation of machine
gun squadrons was most useful. But in open warfare it was
generally found necessary to allot a certain number of guns to
each regiment in accordance with the importance of its mission and
thus the machine gun squadron was generally broken up before the
The strength of the Squadron on formation was 7 officers,
213 other ranks, 299 horses, and 12 guns. The officers were
Captain G. Sartorius (6th Cavalry) (in command), Lieutenant
H. P. Holt, Lieutenant S. B. Horn (3rd Dragoon Guards)
Lieutenant J. B. Bickersteth, Lieutenant A. R. Cooper (Royals),
Lieutenant M. H. Tisdall, and Lieutenant F. B. Ratcliffe (North
Somerset Yeomanry). The Squadron went into billets at Offin.
During the next few weeks the Brigade remained in billets
and continued training.
On 1 st May the North Somerset Yeomanry and the
6th Machine Gun Squadron marched to Le Touquet, and went
under canvas near the golf links. Permission to form this camp
had been obtained in order that the regiments of the Brigade in 191 6
turn might make use of the sands for drill and shooting.
On 15th May the Brigade marched to St. Riquier and took
part in five days of very strenuous divisional training. Cavalry
were allowed to ride all over the training area, about six miles square,
regardless of crops. The weather was extremely hot.
On 2 1 st May the Brigade, less "C" Battery who remained
divisionalised at St. Riquier, returned to permanent billets. Major
A. E. Erskine left the Battery at St. Riquier, and Major the Hon.
H. R. Scarlett took over command.
On 22nd May Brigadier General D. G. M. Campbell was
appointed to command the 21st Division, and the following day
Lieut. -Colonel A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O. (Queen's Bays), who
had for some time been in command of the 1 8th Hussars, took over
the 6th Cavalry Brigade.
On 24th May the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the 6th Machine
Gun Squadron marched to the Le Touquet camp, and a few
days later the Royals moved to Fressin and " C " Battery
returned from St. Riquier and went into billets at Wambercourt.
On 6th June the Royals took over the camp at Le Touquet
from the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and on 12th June the Machine Gun
Squadron returned from Le Touquet and went into billets at Cavron-
St. -Martin. On 1 7th June Captain Sartorius ceased to command
the 6th Machine Gun Squadron, Lieutenant H. P. Holt (3rd
Dragoon Guards) temporarily taking over command.
All units of the Brigade were ordered to concentrate in billets
by 22nd June.
At 8.15 p.m. on 24th June, the Brigade, marching by night,
began a four days' trek by way of Domvaast and St. Leger-le-
Domart to the Somme area. The Brigade arrived at Bonnay at
5.0 a.m. on the morning of the 27th, after a very wet march.
The Somme offensive was to have begun on 29th June, but
at 5.30 p.m. on 28th June, orders were received that it had been
1 9 1 6 postponed for 48 hours. On 29th June Captain F. King
(4th Hussars) took over command of the 6th Machine Gun
Squadron. On 30th June "A" Squadron (Royals), under Captain
E. W. T. Miles, moved off to join the 19th Infantry Division as
On 1st July the Brigade was saddled up in bivouac at 7.30 a.m.
and ready to move immediately. Although the British attack, which
extended from Gommecourt in the North to Maricourt in the South,
was successful (especially about Fricourt where General Campbell's
2 1 st Division did good work), the initial advance was not such as
to warrant the hope of cavalry being used at this stage, and at
1 2 noon came orders that the Brigade was on two hours' notice, and
then that it would not be needed that day. The Brigade remained
on short notice at Bonnay till the morning of 4th July, when it moved
to the Merelissart — Allery — Wiry area, a trek of ^6 kilometres.
On 6th July one officer and 58 other ranks from the dismounted
squadrons of each regiment went by rail from Longpre to Mericourt
to help clean up the battlefield, under the 1 5th Corps.
On the afternoon of 8 th July the Brigade marched back to
Corbie, arriving there in the early hours of 9th July, and the same
day moved on into camp at Vaux-sur-Somme.
On 14th July the British attack on the German main second
line was launched, and the Brigade stood-to at half-an-hour's notice
from 4.0 a.m. Readiness to move at 4 hours' notice was required
during the next few days, and on 19th July the Brigade moved to
On 25th July a party of 8 officers and 277 other ranks, under
Lieut. -Colonel F. W. Wormald, D.S.O., proceeded to Becourt to
work at trenches in the neighbourhood of Contalmaison under the
3rd Corps, and two days later a party of the same strength proceeded
to the same place to dig on the Mametz — Contalmaison line. The
weather was unusually fine and hot.
On 29th July three detachments of 4 guns each from the 19 16
6th Machine Gun Squadron rode up to Becourt (the horses returning
to La Neuville), and the following day went up to Mametz and
Bazentin-le-Petit Woods, where they started to construct strong
points, with orders to garrison them when made. Severe fighting
was in progress round High Wood, and the positions held by all
three detachments were very exposed. Captain King visited all
guns and every effort was made to dig in as quickly as possible
and strengthen the general defence system. At intervals during
the afternoon and evening there was heavy shelling by the Germans,
but fortunately the squadron had few casualties. Captain King
was fortunate in not being killed, as a dump, near which were his
headquarters, received a direct hit and blew up.
On 1st August the Brigade moved West, billeting near Soues,
and on 2nd August went into billets three kilometres North-west
of Abbeville. Two days later, spending one night at Maintenay
and Roussent, the Brigade returned to the Royon area.
On 8th August a party of snipers (1 officer, 9 other ranks) went
to Arras and were attached to the 64th Infantry Brigade
(21st Division) in the line.
On 13th August 4 officers and r8o other ranks proceeded by
lorry to the 2nd Corps area to lay cables, and at the end of the
month were relieved by a party of similar strength.
On 27th August 12 guns of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron
proceeded by lorry to Bouzincourt and were attached to the
2nd Corps. They went into the line three days later. Four guns
(Lieutenant S. B. Horn and Lieutenant G. H. Eaton) took up a
position in Prospect Row overlooking Hamel and Thiepval Wood.
Four guns (Lieutenant J. B. Bickersteth and Lieutenant A. R.
Cooper) were in the front and support lines 200 yards from Thiepval.
The trenches in this sector were under direct enfilade fire from
Schwaben redoubt. These four guns were attached to the
49th Division and took an active part in a general infantry attack
v ^ *
1 91 6 extending from Beaumont-Hamel to the " Wunderwerk." This
attack, which was put off three times owing to bad weather, finally
took place on 3rd September. All guns in the Squadron co-operated.
The barrage which started at 5.10 a.m. was tremendous, but the
opposition all along the line was very strong, especially opposite
Thiepval, where no substantial advance was made.
On 7th September the 6th Machine Gun Squadron and all
working parties concentrated in permanent billets, and three days
later the Brigade began another long trek to the Somme area, arriving
at La Chaussee on 12th September. Operation orders for the
attack of 15th September were issued, and on 14th September the
Brigade camped near Bussy, moving the following day to a point
just South-west of Bonnay.
On 15th September Tanks were used for the first time. Flers
and Martinpuich were taken, and our line was advanced towards
Geudicourt, Lesboeufs and Morval. The Brigade stood-to at half-
an-hour's notice, but on 1 6th September moved into bivouac South
of Pont Noyelles. For the next three days it rained steadily, and
the state of the camp became very bad. During this period the
Brigade found a working party of 330 all ranks for work on tracks
towards Flers and Geudicourt. On 15th September Captain A. W.
Phipps was in charge of a party of 2^0 men for this purpose, and
arrived on Windmill Ridge the moment the attack started. In
spite of heavy shelling tracks were constructed as far as Flers. The
party had 40 casualties.
On 22nd September the Brigade began a three days' trek North,
arriving in the Douriez area on 24th September, and by the middle
of October were billeted at Verton, Rang-de-Fliers, St. Josse and
On 2nd October a party of 4 officers and 126 other ranks
proceeded to Bouzincourt to work under the Reserve Army, being
relieved on 20th October by a similar number. The following day
" C " Battery marched to Le Ponchel and, coming under orders of 1 9 1 6
C.R.H.A., 3rd Cavalry Division, moved up to take part in the Ancre
offensive. The attack on Beaumont-Hamel and St. Pierre Divion
was postponed several times owing to bad weather. At Zero on the
day of the offensive, the Battery, which was in position near Mesnil,
fired a barrage on the sector attacked by the 1 8th Division, later
switching on to the 63rd Divisional front. At 10 a.m. the Battery
moved on to Hamel, but were unable to advance owing to numerous
machine gun nests. The following day the Battery took up a
position West of Hamel village and remained there for five days,
when they were withdrawn from the line, and rejoined the
6th Cavalry Brigade on 24th November, being billeted at Roussent.
On 23rd October Major W. T. Hodgson (Royals) was
appointed G.S.O.2, 1st Cavalry Division, and on 28th October
Captain S. G. Howes (21st Lancers) became Brigade Major of the
6th Cavalry Brigade.
On 7th November Captain J. Blakiston-Houston (nth
Hussars) joined the Brigade as Staff Captain.
About the middle of December " C " Battery marched to Aire,
where it joined the 1st Army Artillery School as depot Battery.
The Battery was engaged in training New Army officers and men,
and also the Portuguese. Great attention was paid to turn-out.
The guns were also painted in the then new camouflage colours by
a camouflage artist.
The 6th Cavalry Pioneer Battalion, under Lieut. -Colonel
M. R. C. Backhouse, D.S.O. (North Somerset Yeomanry) left for
Maresquel on 20th December and proceeded from there by rail
to Acheux for work under the 1 3th Corps (strength, 26 officers,
823 other ranks).
On 22nd December the Brigade exchanged its billeting area
with the 8th Cavalry Brigade, moving to Maresquel, Aix-en-Issart,
Aubin-St.-Vaast and Offin.
191 7 Early in January, 19 17, the pioneer battalion moved to
Doullens, where they worked at double tracking the railway.
On 30th January 5 officers and 87 other ranks of the
6th Machine Gun Squadron left by lorry for Villers-au-Bois, where
they were attached to the 1st Canadian Corps. They went into
the line near the Vimy Ridge on 1st February, and remained there
throughout that month. Squadron Headquarters were at
Cabaret Rouge. Much indirect fire was done and the squadron
was constantly co-operating in small raids. Early on the
morning of 1st March they took part in an important raid which,
after a discharge of a new kind of gas, was carried out by two
Canadian battalions. The raid was not a success owing to the
Germans being forewarned of the gas, which was not as deadly as
had been hoped. The following day this party returned to
On 1 6th March the 6th Cavalry Pioneer Battalion rejoined
the Brigade from Doullens. " C " Battery also returned from Aire.
About the same time Lieut. -Colonel G. H. A. Ing, D.S.O. (Queen's
Bays), assumed command of the North Somerset Yeomanry.
At the beginning of this month the Germans began their retreat
from the Somme — Oise front. The week I2th-i9th March saw
the taking of Baghdad, the Russian revolution, and the occupation of
On 2 1 st March the Reverend Arthur Helps joined the Brigade
as Chaplain and served with it for the next nine months.
On 25th March a working party under Captain U. E. C.
Carnegy (3rd Dragoon Guards) — strength, 4 officers, 120 other
ranks — went by lorry to Arras, and two days later were reinforced
by four more officers and 100 other ranks. This party was occupied
in preparing a cavalry track.
Map showing position of 6th Cavalry Brigade, afternoon and evening of April nth, 1917
ON 5th April the Brigade concentrated in the area 1 9 1 7
Ecquemicourt — Plumoison, thus allowing divisional
headquarters and the 7th Cavalry Brigade to come into
close quarters from the West. On 7th April the Brigade
moved to Vacquerie and Fortel, and the following day
marched by way of Rebreuviette to Fosseux.
The Arras offensive was launched at 5.30 a.m. on 9th April.
The attack, which was made by the 3rd and 1st Armies, was on a
front of 1 5 miles from Croisilles South-east of Arras to the Northern
foot of the Vimy Ridge. East of Arras the first and second line
had been captured by 12 noon, but determined resistance at
Observation Ridge delayed the bringing up of our artillery, and this
affected our attack on Monchy-le-Preux on the afternoon of
The Brigade stood-to at 5.30 a.m. on 9th April, and at
10.30 a.m. marched through Wanquetin to a point near Duisans.
"A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) joined the 8th Cavalry Brigade
in order to be sufficiently in advance to prepare crossings over the
Wancourt — Feuchy line. At 2.30 p.m. the Brigade moved to the
concentration area just West of Arras and at 4.30 p.m., following
the 8 th Cavalry Brigade, passed through Arras and on to the Cavalry
Track, which was marked by flags (light blue and dark blue
diagonally) and halted near the Cemetery East of Arras.
"A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) rejoined the Brigade at
8.0 p.m., and at 11.30 the same evening the Brigade moved back
to bivouac in the open fields West of Arras. That night the
weather, which till then had been fine, broke, and a bitter wind,
heavy squalls of sleet and driving snow made conditions very bad.
At 10.30 a.m. on 10th April, the Brigade moved forward
through Arras, halting for two hours East of the town.
i 9 1 j "A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) had previously gone forward
again to prepare four crossings over the Wancourt — Feuchy line.
Colonel Burt sent two officers' patrols to get touch with the infantry
at La Bergere and Monchy-le-Preux.
At about 3 p.m. the 6th and 8th Cavalry Brigade, with "C" and
"G" Batteries moved forward to the valley along which runs the
Feuchy — Feuchy Chapel road. Here they came under slight
shelling, which caused a few casualties in men and horses. This
ground had been won during the previous night. During the
afternoon driving snowstorms accompanied by an icy wind, swept
across the country at frequent intervals. At 7 p.m., the advance
having been postponed owing to the necessity of a fresh attack on
Monchy, the Brigade moved back about 2,000 yards and bivouacked
for the night. It was found impossible to picquet the horses owing
to the mud and shell holes. There was no shelter of any kind, and
nothing warm to eat or drink could be made. Most of the night
At 5.30 a.m. on 11th April, the 3rd Dragoon Guards, with
one sub-section of machine guns and one section of " C " Battery,
R.H.A., moved up to a point about 500 yards North-west of Feuchy
Chapel. Officers' patrols were continually sent out to keep touch
with the infantry at La Bergere and Monchy, and an officer's patrol
was also sent to act as permanent liaison with the 8th Cavalry Brigade
who were just to the North of the 6th Brigade.
At 8.0 a.m. the 112th Infantry Brigade, with whom Major
H. A. Tomkinson (Royals) was acting as liaison officer (till he was
wounded) reported La Bergere and Monchy-le-Preux to be clear
of the enemy, but the situation was very obscure.
Accordingly, the 6th and 8 th Brigades were ordered to advance.
At 8.30 a.m. the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the Essex Yeomanry
moved forward over the Feuchy trenches parallel to each other.
Colonel Burt sent forward " B " Squadron (Captain C. E. R.
Holroyd-Smith, M.C.) to seize, with one intermediate bound,
the first objective, which was the ridge South of Monchy. 19 17
" C " Squadron (Major G. T. Cliff) followed " B " Squadron
and took up a position on its right, the approximate line then being
from the Southern end of Monchy village to the windmill just West
of La Bergere. The right of " C " Squadron was in touch with
the infantry — about 50 men of the North Lancashire Regiment — at
La Bergere. Both these Squadrons came under heavy shell and
machine gun fire from Guemappe and suffered a good many
casualties, Lieutenant Newton-Deakin being killed. During their
advance the Germans, who were seen digging in on the ridge,
retired. At about 9.30 a.m. "A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards)
took up a position some 300 yards North-east of Les Fosses farm.
Meanwhile the Essex Yeomanry moved forward towards
Monchy from the West, followed by the 10th Hussars who entered
by the road leading round the northern edge of the village. They
came under heavy fire from the North during their advance. These
regiments immediately took up positions to the South-east, East,
and North of Monchy. Thus the line held by the 6th and 8th
Brigades extended from La Bergere in the South to the Northern
extremity of Monchy. It is clear that Monchy was not held by
the infantry, when the cavalry arrived, only scattered parties of the
1 nth and 112th Brigades being found at isolated points.
During these operations Brigadier-General C. B. Bulkeley-
Johnson, D.S.O. (8th Cavalry Brigade), was killed, and Lieut. -
Colonel P. E. Hardwick, D.S.O. (10th Hussars, formerly second
in command of The Royal Dragoons) was severely wounded.
The remainder of the Brigade, with Brigade headquarters
slightly in advance, had meanwhile moved up to the North-west
slope of the high ground East of Feuchy Chapel.
At 9.15 a.m. General Harman ordered another section of
" C " Battery to reinforce the 3rd Dragoon Guards. As the right
flank of the 3rd Dragoon Guards was exposed and the enemy were
threatening a counter-attack from Guemappe, Colonel Burt sent one
1 9 1 7 troop with two Hotchkiss rifles to strengthen the infantry at
At 12 noon a 3rd Cavalry Division aeroplane reported that the
enemy were entrenching on the line St. Rohart's factory — Keeling
Copse — Pelves, and orders were received that the 6th and 8th
Brigades were to send their horses back and hold the line they had
then reached with Hotchkiss rifles and machine guns.
At 1.30 p.m. General Harman ordered the two sections of
" C " Battery to withdraw, as their position, which was very exposed,
had been discovered by a hostile aeroplane. " C " Battery, under
Major Hon. H. R. Scarlett, then took up a position about a thousand
yards East of Feuchy Chapel, and fire was directed on the Bois du
Vert and on the road East of La Bergere. Observation was
very difficult owing to heavy snow storms. At about 2 p.m. the
led horses of the 8th Cavalry Brigade and of the 3rd Dragoon
Guards began to come back. Heavy shrapnel fire which followed
them up caught "A" Squadron of the Royals and caused considerable
casualties both in men and horses.
At 2.30 p.m. Colonel Burt reported that his flanks were very
weakly held, and that the enemy were advancing 1,000 yards
East of La Bergere. General Harman therefore ordered one
squadron of the North Somerset Yeomanry (Major R. A. West)
with two sub-sections of machine guns to go forward dismounted
and support the right flank of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. This
was done, two troops and the machine gun sub-sections taking up
a position South of the Cambrai road, where about 25 men of
different infantry battalions had been organised into a defence post
by a private of the 6th Bedfords.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Brigade were waiting in the
valley just West of Feuchy Chapel. About 5.30 p.m. the enemy
began to search this low ground with great accuracy, "A" Squadron
of the Royals again suffering casualties.
About 7 p.m. the Royals and details of the 8th Brigade 191 7
moved back by the cavalry track to Arras. The cavalry track
was almost impassable owing to the mud, and several horses were so
exhausted that having got thoroughly bogged they could not be
extricated. The remainder of the Brigade followed during the
night, having been relieved South of Monchy by the 12th Division.
The horse ambulances of the 6th C.F.A. went up to Les Fosses Farm
after dark and evacuated both cavalry and infantry wounded. The
whole Brigade bivouacked on the race-course West of Arras. An
icy gale and a blizzard of snow blew all night. There was no shelter
of any kind.
At 10.30 a.m. on 12th April, the Brigade moved back to billets
at Fosseux, and four days later marched into an area just West of
During these operations good work was done by the 6th Dis-
mounted Company under Captain U. E. C. Carnegy (3rd Dragoon
Guards) which had left Maresquel on 25th March. After four
days' work on the cavalry track from the Rue d' Amiens (in Arras)
to the front line, the party was ordered to begin making a track
immediately North of the Cambrai road. On the morning
of the attack they waited in assembly trenches West of the
cemetery, and as soon as the infantry had gone on completed
the track through the enemy first line system by 2.0 p.m.
The following morning the party followed up the infantry attack
on Orange Hill, and the track was ready as far as that point
by 10.^0 a.m. On 13th April they cleared Monchy-le-Preux of
200 wounded belonging to the 8th Brigade. A large party of
bearers from the 6th C.F.A. gave valuable assistance in this work.
The casualties during these operations were : — Brigade Head-
quarters : other ranks, 3 wounded. 3rd Dragoon Guards : officers,
Lieutenant C. H. Newton-Deakin (killed), 2nd-Lieutenants M. V. T.
Mott, D. A. S. F. Cole (wounded), M. H. Dulson (wounded and
missing, since reported killed); other ranks, 18 killed, 75 wounded,
191-7 3 missing. The Royal Dragoons: officers, Major H. A.
Tomkinson (wounded); other ranks, 2 killed, 28 wounded. North
Somerset Yeomanry : officers, Major W. A. Kennard, D.S.O.
(13th Hussars: attached North Somerset Yeomanry), Lieutenant
S. W. Applegate, M.C., 2nd-Lieutenants K. G. Jenkins, J. H.
Hewes (wounded); other ranks, 5 killed, 17 wounded. "C" Battery,
R.H.A. : other ranks, 3 killed, 16 wounded. 6th Machine Gun
Squadron : officers, Lieutenant A. R. Cooper, 2nd-Lieutenant C. G.
Lowden (wounded); other ranks, 3 killed, 4 wounded. The
3rd Dragoon Guards had 190 horses killed.
It would be difficult to conceive of worse weather for important
operations. Numbers of men in the Brigade, after having been
out in the open for three nights in the snow, had to be evacuated
suffering from exposure. The horses suffered even more than the
men. Every night they stood out in the driving snow up to their
hocks in mud and slush. On one occasion it was impossible to
water them for close on 48 hours. It was, however, extraordinary
how quickly they picked up after a week's rest and care.
On 19th April the Brigade moved into the Maintenay — Vron —
Nempont area. On 23rd April a Gotha machine with compass out
of order came down near Vron. The occupants, two officers and
one N.C.O., succeeded in partially burning one of the engines before
they were taken prisoners by a Royals' exercise party which happened
to be passing at the time.
Three hundred riding horses arrived from Boulogne on
^oth April, thus making the Brigade up to strength after the losses
at Arras. On 5th May the Corps Commander presented medal
ribands at Petit Preaux. On qth May the Brigade held a Horse
Show at Petit Preaux.
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
— < HE 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions having 191 7
been ordered to concentrate in the area East and South
of Peronne, the Brigade left billets on 12th May, and
after three days' trek arrived at Bussy-les-Daours.
" C " Battery left the Brigade here and joined the
2nd Cavalry Division.
On 17th May the Brigade moved to Bayonvillers and
Harbonnieres, and next day marched into camp just North of the
village of Buire, 4 miles East of Peronne. The whole of this area
had been evacuated by the Germans in their retreat to the Hinden-
burg Line two months before. It was a fine, open, undulating
country, almost entirely grass land, and affording wonderful grazing
for the horses. Every village had been systematically destroyed by
the enemy before they retired and all civilians removed. The
Brigade camp was well situated on ground sloping down to the
Cologne river. Officers and men made themselves bivouacs from
material taken from old German dug-outs in the neighbourhood.
On the night of 21st May "C" Battery went into action
near Ronssoy. About this time Lieutenant R. Lakin (Oxfordshire
Hussars) became A.D.C. to General Harman, in place of Lieutenant
S. Ricardo (General List), who was evacuated sick.
On 2 ^rd May the 6th and 7th Cavalry Brigades began to relieve
portions of the 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades in Sector D of the
cavalry corps front. The trench line taken over extended from
Tombois Farm (exclusive) in the South to Pigeon Quarry (500 yards
East of the junction of Pigeon and Targelle ravine) in the north.
This front was divided into sub-sectors, Di and D2 (the boundary
between them being a sunk road North of Catelet Copse), and had
three main lines of defence, the Outpost, Intermediate (Green), and
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
1 9 1 y Second (Brown) lines. The intermediate line eventually consisted
of the posts Meath, Limerick, Kildare, Heythrop, Grafton, which
were joined up to form a continuous trench system. The Brown line
ran East of Ep6hy. Sector headquarters was in a railway embank-
ment immediately East of Epehy.
The Brigade took over Di sub-sector, and by the morning of
the 25th May one-and-a-half squadrons of the Royals were in the
Birdcage under Captain H. M. P. Hewett, the 3rd Dragoon Guards
in the Intermediate line, the remainder of the Royals in support to
the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and the North Somerset Yeomanry in the
Second line. Two Vickers guns, subsequently three, were put into
the Birdcage, the rest being in the Intermediate line, with two in
reserve. Colonel Burt was in command of the sub-sector and
General Harman of the sector. The artillery, consisting of
" C " and " K " Batteries, two Field Batteries and one Howitzer
Battery, were under Lieut. -Colonel A. R. Wainewright, and the
machine guns (6th and 7th Machine Gun Squadrons) were in charge
of Major F. King.
The whole sector was quiet with the exception of the Bird-
cage, which was subjected daily to Trench Mortar fire, and Petit
Priel farm which was continually shelled. The Birdcage was in a
very isolated position and could only be approached by night. The
wire was thin and the trenches were shallow and unfinished.
Ossus Wood and the area round the outposts were patrolled
almost every night, and work was at once begun on strengthening
the Birdcage and improving the Intermediate line.
About 2.0 a.m. on 28th May, the enemy made a raid on the
communication trench (about 400 yards long), which ran from the
Quarry to the Birdcage. The North Somerset Yeomanry, who
had relieved the Royals that night, succeeded in driving off
a large party of Germans, but Corporal Dunn (North Somerset
Yeomanry), who was on his way down the trench with a broken
Map to illustrate section of line held by 6th Cavalry Brigade, May and June, igi ~. 8
. T argelie "Ravine
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
telephone in his hand, was captured by the raiding party and taken 1917
to the German line.
On the evening of 1st June relief by the 8th Cavalry Brigade
began and was completed by the morning of the 3rd. Lieut. -Colonel
Lord Tweedmouth took over command of Di sub-sector and
General Portal relieved General Harman. During these nine days
much work had been done. The Birdcage and its communication
trench were wired and greatly improved, and in the Intermediate
line all the redoubts were strengthened, new machine gun emplace-
ments made, and dug-outs begun.
The Brigade marched back to camp at Buire and took over
duties ot Reserve Brigade.
By the morning of 12th June the Brigade had relieved the
7th Cavalry Brigade in D2 sub-sector, General Seymour taking over
command of D sector from General Portal the same day. One-
and-a-half squadrons of the Royals were in the outpost line,
the ^rd Dragoon Guards in the Intermediate line, the remainder
of the Royals being in support, and the North Somerset
Yeomanry in the Second line. The Machine Gun Squadron had
one gun in No. 1 Post and one in No. 3 Post, the rest (except two
in reserve) were doing S.O.S. and barrage fire from the Intermediate
line. " C " Battery took over " K " Battery's positions near Epehy,
and during the next ten days took part in several raids done by the
cavalry, the most notable of which was that done by the Greys on
Guillemont Farm and by the Royals on enemy posts between Ossus
and Canal Woods.
Much work was done at night. The trenches were widened,
deepened and revetted, tactical rays of wire were put out, a new Sub-
sector headquarters with " elephant " dug-outs was begun in Pigeon
Ravine, and communication trenches from the Barricade to No. 1
Post were started.
Officers' patrols went out every night from one of the outposts.
The distance separating our own and the enemy outposts was about
800 yards. g
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
1 9 1 7 At i .30 a.m. on 1 5th June, an enemy patrol attempted to bomb
one of our wiring parties in front of No. 1 Post, but were driven off.
Regiments relieved each other every six days in the outpost line.
Our artillery constantly shelled Ossus Wood, Vendhuille and
La Terriere, and the machine guns carried out indirect harassing
fire on cross roads and other tactical points.
On 2 1 st June the enemy in two parties attempted to raid the
Birdcage, occupied at that time by the Leicester Yeomanry : one
party was driven off by rapid fire, the other was caught by its
own T.M. barrage. Three wounded Germans were brought in
and seven dead, including an officer, were left in our wire.
On 22nd June General Harman relieved General Seymour.
Early on the morning of 25th June a raid was carried out on
the enemy outposts between Canal Wood and Ossus Wood. The
raiding party, which was divided into two, consisted of 100 all
ranks, all of whom were Royals except a few men from the
3rd Dragoon Guards and North Somerset Yeomanry who were
among the Scouts, and six men from the 3rd Field Squadron who
were responsible for the Bangalore torpedoes.
The right party under Lieutenant R. H. W. Henderson
(with Lieutenant J. S. Dunville in charge of the advance scouts)
attacked South of the road which led from No. 3 Post to Ossus
Wood, and the left party under Lieutenant R. B. Helme (with
Lieutenant V. C. Rice, North Somerset Yeomanry, in charge of the
advance Scouts) attacked to the North of it. Lieutenant J. B.
Bickersteth was in charge of the Hotchkiss rifles and covering party.
The march across No Man's Land, a distance of about
750 yards was made on a compass bearing, each party moving
separately. Dense thistles as high as a man's head increased the
difficulty of keeping direction. A tape was laid in order to assist
the return journey. Both parties lay up about 200 yards from the
enemy's wire until the barrage started at zero (1.10 a.m.) and then
moved forward with the barrage. From the first there was consider-
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
able opposition, and each party came under heavy rifle and trench 19 17
mortar fire. After being delayed some minutes by an extra belt
of wire, the right party reached the enemy's main wire. A
Bangalore torpedo was put in position, but at first failed to go off",
thus causing still further delay. By the time the actual trenches
were reached, the scheduled time limit was almost up. Several
Germans, however, were killed before the party was forced to with-
draw in order to escape our own barrage.
The left party cut the first belt of wire and prepared to blow
up the main belt, but found some white posts marking a track into
the enemy trenches. They entered by this track. A considerable
number of Germans were killed and a machine gun in a shell hole was
destroyed. Lieutenant Rice had his arm broken by a bullet, but
killed two Germans and carried on till completion of the raid. One
prisoner was taken, but died before he could be got in. Several
identifications were procured, showing the enemy to belong to the
2nd Battalion 124th Infantry Regiment. Unfortunately, during
this raid Lieutenant Helme was killed and Lieutenant Dunville so
severely wounded that he died in hospital two days later.
The casualties during this period in the trenches were: —
3rd Dragoon Guards : officers, 2nd-Lieutenant T. P. Brill
(wounded) ; other ranks, 2 killed, 7 wounded. The Royal
Dragoons : officers, Lieutenant R. B. Helme (killed), 2nd-Lieutenant
J. S. Dunville (died of wounds) and 2nd-Lieutenant C. C. H.
Hilton-Green (wounded); other ranks, 2 killed, 19 wounded,
2 missing. North Somerset Yeomanry: officers, 2nd-Lieutenant
V. C. Rice (wounded); other ranks, 10 wounded, 1 missing.
Second-Lieutenant J. S. Dunville (Royals) was awarded the
Victoria Cross for his work during this raid. The official
account is as follows : — " For most conspicuous bravery. When
" in charge of a party consisting of scouts and Royal Engineers
" engaged in the demolition of the enemy's wire, this officer displayed
" great gallantry and disregard of all personal danger. In order to
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
1 9 1 7 " ensure the absolute success of the work entrusted to him, Second-
" Lieutenant Dunville placed himself between a non-commissioned
" officer of the Royal Engineers and the enemy's fire, and, thus
" protected, this non-commissioned officer was enabled to complete a
" work of great importance. 2nd-Lieutenant Dunville, although
" severely wounded, continued to direct his men in the wire-cutting
" and general operations until the raid was successfully completed,
" thereby setting a magnificent example of courage, determination, and
" devotion to duty to all ranks under his command. This gallant
" officer has since succumbed to his wounds."
The Brigade remained in camp at Buire till 4th July, and then
began a four days' march to Auchel, Marles-les-Mines and
Lapugnoy. The Brigade remained in this district till 1 6th July,
when it marched into the Haverskerque area. Brigade head-
quarters were at Les Lauriers, occupying the same house as in
November, 19 14. The Brigade area extended along the road from
Le Sart to Haverskerque.
At the end of July the Brigade sent officers and men to Camiers
for Hotchkiss Rifle Training and also to St. Pol for Physical and
On 5th August Captain J. Blakiston-Houston, D.S.O.
(1 ith Hussars) was appointed D.A.A. and Q.M.G. of the Division,
and a few days later Captain S. C. Deed, M.C. (General List,
10th Hussars) was made Staff Captain of the 6th Brigade.
On 6th August a working party (strength 5 officers and 152
other ranks) proceeded to a point near Vlamertinghe for work under
the 5th Army near St. Jean (East of Ypres). 2nd-Lieutenant F. T.
Turpin (North Somerset Yeomanry) was wounded, and the Royals
had several casualties.
On 1 2th August all the surplus men of the regiments and the
6th Machine Gun Squadron proceeded to the base.
EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE
" C " Battery left the Brigade on 31st August to be attached 1 9 1 7
to the 5th Army as instructional battery near St. Omer, not rejoining
until the beginning of November.
During the period at Haverskerque regimental and brigade
training took place.
Brigade and Divisional horse shows were also held, and on
1st September there was a Cavalry Corps horse show near St. Pol.
On 1st October the 3rd Dragoon Guards held sports, the chief event
of which was a three-and-a-half mile race, won from a field of 150
by Lieutenant Vincent (3rd Dragoon Guards).
On 9th October Captain S. C. Deed, M.C. (Staff Captain),
and Captain U. E. C. Carnegy, M.C, proceeded to Egypt to take
up staff appointments there. Captain R. M. Wootten (6th Innis-
killing Dragoons) became Staff Captain of the Brigade.
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
'9 1 ? / \Ni
I I Vail
9 th October the Brigade began a trek of several days,
by 24th October were in billets along the Somme
Valley from Abbeville to Longpre.
Three days later a Brigade working party (strength,
9 officers, 350 other ranks) proceeded by lorry to Doingt
(East of Peronne) to erect stables and huts, the 3rd Cavalry Pioneer
Battalion being under Major G. T. Cliff (3rd Dragoon Guards).
Three weeks later the whole of this party rejoined.
On 1 2th November "C" Battery with remainder of 4th Brigade,
R.H.A., marched to Le Mesnil-en-Artois, and on the night of
20th November were in a position South of Havrincourt Wood.
They took part in the original barrage for the Cambrai offensive,
and remained in position till 30th November.
On 17th November the Brigade marched to the Beaucourt-
Contay area and remained in billets till 4 p.m. the following after-
noon, when the march was continued by night to Suzanne — the
3rd Dragoon Guards being at Cappy.
General Harman was in command of the Division in the
absence of General Vaughan, and Colonel Burt was in temporary
command of the Brigade.
At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, 20th November, the attack on the Cam-
brai salient, which had been in preparation for many weeks, began.
The chief features of the offensive were the use of the infantry
who were holding the line as the primary attacking force, and the
employment of Tanks on a large scale. The enemy were not
expecting the attack, which proved a complete surprise. The
Hindenburg line was carried, and with the exception of some resist-
ance at Havrincourt, and later at Flesquieres (which was after-
; rcnuu in mc unc neccmoer, i o i 7 ana |anuary, 1 9 1 ivaaencourt and l.c Vcrguier).
Map illustrating \ (2) Area oyer which " C" Battery R.H. A. fought, March 2 1st — 26th, 1918 (Mapi3 illustrates March 26th — April 5th, 191 8).
(3) Operations <>n 3rd October, 19.18 (Joncourt and Preselles).
Hindenburg Line. Note. — The Germans retreated to this line in March, 1 (j 1 7. They advanced from it on
March 21st, [qi8, and were driven back to it in September, 1918. At the end of that
month the Hindenburg f.ine was definitely broken.
I 9 I?
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
wards retaken by the enemy), all objectives from Masnieres to 191 7
Noyelles were taken with few casualties.
The 1st Cavalry Division, which was at Fins when the attack
started, moved forward but were held up at first by the recapture
of Flesquieres. They subsequently did most useful work, both
mounted and dismounted. The 5th Cavalry Division supported
the infantry along the L'Escaut canal by Marcoing and Masnieres,
one squadron of the Fort Garry Horse succeeding in crossing the
canal. The 2nd Cavalry Division moved up in support of the
5th Cavalry Division, but returned during the night to Villers
The Brigade stood-to at Suzanne from 8.30 a.m. ready to move
at half-an-hour's notice, but later in the day off-saddled. Heavy
rain began during the afternoon and continued persistently for two
days. The following morning the Brigade stood-to at 6.30 a.m.,
but it became evident as the day wore on that a forward movement
On 23rd November the Brigade moved back to the Talmas —
Contay — Herissart area. The fighting round Cambrai had become
stationary, the enemy having brought up strong reinforcements.
The 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions were employed dismounted in
On 29th November the Brigade was ordered to send a dis-
mounted Battalion to the trenches, the whole Division finding a
Brigade. The advance party with transport left on 30th November
for Templeux-le-Guerard. That morning, however, the Germans
attacked from Bantouzelle to Vendhuille. They took Villers
Gui slain, La Vacquerie and Lateau Wood, and were in Gouzeaucourt
before anyone suspected the rapidity of the attack. At 12 noon the
Brigade was ordered to be ready to move mounted at one hour's
notice; the dismounted Battalion being cancelled and transport
ordered to rejoin. " C " Battery went into action under the 24th
Division at Templeux-le-Guerard and remained there till nth
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
1 9 1 7 December. The same evening orders were received to form the
Battalion as before, and the following morning the 6th Cavalry
Battalion under Lieut. -Colonel F. W. Wormald, D.S.O., and a
dismounted party from the 6th Machine Gun Squadron went by
bus to Bernes, where they remained in reserve under the 7th Corps.
On the night 7th-8th December, the 3rd Dismounted Division
(as it was now called : it actually equalled about three battalions) took
over the line from the 17th Infantry Brigade and came under orders
of the 24th Division. The sector extended roughly from the
Omignon River to Le Verguier (see Map 9 facing page 68).
It was a few miles South of the sector held by the Brigade
the previous summer. The line consisted of a series of posts
with continuous wire. The enemy held a well-wired con-
secutive trench line running along the ridge to the West of
the St. Quentin Canal. The country was bare undulating grass
land with a few small woods, and no-man's land varied from 1,000 to
1,500 yards in width. There were many small valleys, sunk roads
and much dead ground between our posts and the enemy, and these
had constantly to be patrolled. Outstanding features such as
Ascension Wood, Big and Little Bill, Victoria X Roads, Fisher
Crater, were explored every night. On the night nth- 12th
December three prisoners and a machine gun were captured by a
patrol of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The following is a typical
example of the work. A patrol of 2 officers and 40 other ranks
went out from No. 9 Post at 5 p.m. on 24th December, and recon-
noitred Ascension Wood, which was found all clear. The patrol
occupied the northern and eastern edges of this wood, scouts being
sent forward to Big and Little Bill. At 3.20 a.m. a German patrol
was reported approaching Ascension Wood from the North-east. •
Our patrol waited until the enemy drew close to the wood, when
they opened a rapid fire and then charged out on the enemy. Two
Germans were taken prisoners.
During most of this period there was snow on the ground,
which with bright moonlight made patrolling difficult, though white
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
suits were provided for use in No Man's Land. The weather 191 7
was extremely cold.
On 10th December 87 horses from the Brigade were despatched
by rail to Marseilles for transport to Egypt. About this time
General Harman rejoined the Brigade, General Vaughan having
returned to the Division from England.
On 2 1 st December the Brigade, less the trench party, marched
into much the same area occupied before 17th November. Heavy
snow followed by a severe frost made this march one of great
On 22nd December Major Hon. H. R. Scarlett left the
Brigade on promotion to Lieut. -Colonel, and Captain E. T. Boylan
rejoining from Headquarters, R.H.A., took over temporary com-
mand of " C " Battery.
On 23rd December Captain R. M. Wootten (6th Inniskilling
Dragoons) joined the staff of the 3rd Cavalry Division, and Captain
D. E. Wallace (2nd Life Guards) became staff captain, being officially
appointed to that post three weeks later.
On 31st December General Harman took command of the
3rd Dismounted Division in the trenches, the headquarters of dis-
mounted Brigades and Squadron leaders having also been changed
from time to time.
On 1st January Major F. King (commanding 6th Machine Gun 191 8
Squadron) left the Brigade to report to Grantham.
On 1 6th January the 3rd Dismounted Division were relieved
by the 1st Dismounted Division, and the 6th Dismounted Brigade
(less 5 officers and 200 other ranks) returned to billets by train and
lorry. During the relief a train on the Vendelles-Roisel light
railway containing mostly 3rd Dragoon Guards ran off the line near
Montigny Farm and four trucks overturned resulting in the death
of S.S.M. Halliday and L. -Corporal Willis (both 3rd Dragoon
Guards), and injury to Lieutenant L. Hellyer (3rd Dragoon Guards)
and 14 other ranks.
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
jqjg The party who were not relieved formed part of a pioneer
regiment found by the 3rd Cavalry Division. This regiment was
billeted at Vendelles and worked in the forward area by night. The
Brigade sent up a relieving party the following week.
The battery which on 1 1 th December had moved into an
unmade position near Jeancourt remained there until 21st March,
covering a zone in front of Sheppard's Copse with S.O.S. barrage
at 4,800 yards. Gun positions were concealed and firing was
restricted to registration. One gun was put in a forward position
near Sheppard's Copse to deal with enemy Tanks. This gun was
lost in the first rush on 21st March. Our infantry report that it
was still seen firing after they had retired behind it.
On 28 th January the Brigade began a three days' march to
Tertry. Tertry like all other villages in the devastated area was
entirely destroyed and officers and men lived in Nissen and Adrien
huts, the horses being in corrugated iron stables. The Royal
Dragoons, North Somerset Yeomanry, and 6th Machine Gun
Squadron were round Couvigny Farm, Brigade headquarters and
the 3rd Dragoon Guards being in Tertry itself with the 6th C.F.A.
A beginning was at once made on improving huts and stabling,
but almost immediately working parties were called for to dig new
trench lines. One party worked on the so-called Green Line which
ran through Caulaincourt. Another party lived at Jeancourt and
worked in the battle zone, a third rode daily to Jeancourt and also
worked in the forward area, while a fourth party worked at an
aerodrome at Flez. In addition to all this, horses had to be looked
after, billets improved, and as much training as possible carried out.
Under the supervision of Lieut. -Colonel F.H.D.C.Whitmore,
C.M.G., D.S.O. (Essex Yeomanry), the Cavalry Corps undertook
an extensive agricultural scheme. Ploughs and agricultural imple-
ments were collected from all parts and repaired by Cavalry Corps
Ordnance Work-shops at Estrees. Horses were supplied by the
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
3rd Cavalry Division and work, was begun at once in conjunction 191
with the French, who had a number of tractors. By the end of
February many acres of land were ploughed and sown with wheat
and other cereals, and some 200 acres were manured and ploughed
ready for potato growing. The Germans, however, took possession
of these agricultural holdings on Lady Day, 191 8. All the horse
ploughs (but fortunately few of the tractors) were captured. It
was not until Michaelmas Day, 191 8, that the Germans were forced
to relinquish their tenancy.
Night bombing by hostile aircraft was of frequent occurrence.
On 1 8 th February the Blues lost 17 horses from a bomb which fell
on one of their stables, and would have lost many more had it not
been for their system of traverses in the stable.
On 4th February Captain C. D. Leyland (1st Life Guards)
arrived and took over command of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron.
On 10th February the Brigade suffered a great loss in the death
of Major G. T. Cliff (second in command, 3rd Dragoon Guards),
who fractured his skull by a fall from his horse, and died at No. 5
CCS. at Tincourt.
It was near the end of the month that the break-up of the
Indian Cavalry regiments took place and the 7th Dragoon Guards,
the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and the 17th Lancers came into the
3rd Cavalry Division to replace the Household Cavalry, who were
now under orders to be converted into Machine Gun battalions.*
On 28 th February the German offensive which had long been
expected appeared to be imminent. A German prisoner captured
two days before stated under special examination that there were very
large bodies of troops in the Laon area and for a great distance back.
He described the country as swarming with troops, who were being
slowly moved forward towards the front. In his own words " it
* The Blues had rejoined the 1st and 2nd Life Guards in the 7th Cavalry Brigade
in November, 1917, changing places with the Leicestershire Yeomanry who were
transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade.
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
i 91 8 was like another mobilisation." He considered the attack certain
for the 2nd or 3rd March with Paris and Calais as the chief objec-
tives, but he did not know exactly on what front the offensive would
It is obvious that it was impossible for the Allied Higher
Command to be absolutely certain where the main blow would fall,
and preparations had therefore to be made to meet the enemy on
any part of the front.
On 1st March, according to a pre-arranged plan, part of
the 8 th Cavalry Brigade moved up into the Brigade area to make
room for infantry. Reconnaissances were carried out with a view
to moving up to the line quickly in case of emergency. Working
parties ceased work, except the party living at Jeancourt, and on
3rd March the Brigade became duty Brigade of Corps Reserve.
Major A. S. Barnwell took over command of " C " Battery on
During the next two weeks Fervaque Farm, Le Verguier,
Vadencourt, Parkers Post and Maissemy were reconnoitred with a
view to the organisation of counter attacks.
On 1 2th March the North Somerset Yeomanry were transferred
to the 8 th Cavalry Brigade, and the 10th Royal Hussars were
transferred to the 6th Cavalry Brigade. The 8th Cavalry Brigade,
now temporarily consisting of the Essex, Leicestershire and
North Somerset Yeomanry, moved down the following day to the
area round Long preparatory to being dismounted. Their future
was uncertain. The first proposal was to make them into Cyclist
battalions, but it now appeared probable that they would be
formed into Machine Gun battalions. It was with genuine
regret that the remainder of the Brigade said good-bye to the North
Somerset Yeomanry, and the following is the Special Order by
Brigadier-General A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O., commanding
6th Cavalry Brigade, dated 12th March, 191 8 : —
" After bidding farewell to the officers, non-commissioned
I 197$ - -^£u^lui£ f()7f.
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
'officers, and men of" the i/ist North Somerset Yeomanry, I wish 1918
c to put on record the feelings of regret with which all ranks
' remaining with the 6th Cavalry Brigade part with the North
' Somerset Yeomanry to-day.
" Since 13th November, 19 14, when they joined the 6th Cavalry
' Brigade, the North Somerset Yeomanry by their high sense of
c duty, keenness, and loyalty, by their efficiency in the fighting round
' Ypres in November, 1914, February, 19 1 5, April, 1 9 1 5, on
'13th May, 19 1 5, at Loos in September, 191 5, at the Hohenzollern
'Redoubt January, 191 6, and at Monchy-le-Preux April, 19 17,
1 have equally maintained the highest traditions of the Brigade.
" In saying good-bye and wishing them God-speed to-day, I feel
s I am voicing the sentiments of all ranks of the Brigade, who,
' though losing their comrades-in-arms, will ever retain the true
c spirit of friendship in which they have fought and played together
' as members of the 6th Cavalry Brigade."
The 10th Royal Hussars on rejoining the Brigade to which
they had belonged during the early part of the war, received a very
On 13th March the Brigade moved to the Devise area, where
officers and men were in huts and the horses in corrugated iron
The following day Brigadier-General A. G. Seymour, D.S.O.,
took over command of the 6th Cavalry Brigade in place of Brigadier-
General A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O., who shortly afterwards was
appointed to command the 3rd Cavalry Division, Captain A. G.M.F.
Howard (Duke of Lancaster's Own) becoming A.D.C. to General
Seymour instead of Lieutenant H. D. Argles (3rd County of London
Yeomanry), who became Camp Commandant, 3rd Cavalry Division.
On 1 6th March Major H. A. Tomkinson, D.S.O. (Royals) was
appointed acting Lieut. -Colonel of the 10th Royal Hussars, and
Captain J. C. Humfrey (6th Inniskilling Dragoons) took over
command of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron from Captain C. D.
VADENCOURT AND TERTRY
1918 Leyland (1st Life Guards), who rejoined his regiment on its being
formed into a Machine Gun battalion.
About this time Captain D. E. Wallace (Staff Captain) left for
England to attend the staff course at Cambridge.
On 1 8th March the Brigade was ordered to find a large digging
party for work on rear zone defences. This was subsequently can-
celled owing to the German attack.
News was received the following day that the offensive would
almost certainly start on the night 2oth-2ist March and would be
preceded by a ten-hours' bombardment.
Throughout the month of March the weather was unusually
fine. Every night there was a sharp frost and in the early morning
a heavy mist which cleared off about 9.0 a.m. The day was then
cloudless and extraordinarily hot for the time of year. In fact the
weather could not have been more favourable for the preparation
of a great offensive, nor for the first ten days of the attack when
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
4.30 a.m. on 21st March the enemy began a heavy 191 8
bombardment of practically the whole front held by the
5th and 3rd Armies, and by 10 a.m. a general attack
had been launched on a 54-mile front, between the
Sensee river on the extreme North and the Oise
on the extreme South. An H.V. gun shelled Devise. No. 35
R.A.F. Squadron on the hill above the Brigade camp was shelled
out. This shelling must have been at a range of about 18,000 to
At 8.15 a.m. came orders to be ready to move at short notice,
and at 3.30 p.m. a telegram was received " Stand-to South." The
Brigade moved off at 5 p.m., and marching through Croix-
Molignaux, Esmery Hallon and Villeselve reached Beaumont
(between Ham and Chauny) at 9 p.m. (see Map 10 facing page 78).
The -weather was fine and frosty, but there was a thick fog. The
Brigade bivouacked in the fields.
It should be clearly understood that in the operations which
took place during the ensuing five days the 6th Cavalry Brigade was
not fighting as a complete unit, but was divided up into five com-
pletely separate formations: — (1) the 6th Dismounted Brigade,
consisting of about 550 all ranks with 8 machine guns and personnel
under Lieut. -Colonel A. Burt, D.S.O. (3rd Dragoon Guards);
(2) Brigade headquarters and 6th Signal Troop with Brigadier-
General A. G. Seymour, D.S.O., who took command of the 7th and
Canadian Dismounted Brigades (the staff of the 6th Cavalry Brigade
thereby temporarily performing the duties of a divisional staff);
(3) the transport, led horses and horseholders of the Brigade who
first went to Pontoise and then to Carlepont: (4) a mounted party
of about 12 officers and 150 other ranks, who having been collected
from the horse-holders, left Pontoise on 23rd March, and under
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
191 8 Major E. H. Watkin Williams (10th Hussars), joined General
Harman's detachment (a further mounted party joining Reynold's
Force on 26th March); (5) " C " Battery, R.H.A., who, under orders
of the 66th Division, were in position at Jeancourt when the great
offensive began and fought almost continuously till 9th April.
Orders were received about midnight to form the 6th Dis-
mounted Brigade, and shortly afterwards this party under Colonel
Burt (3rd Dragoon Guards) with Captain E. W. T. Miles as second-
in-command rode to Ugny-le-Gay. It was a pitch-black night,
and the confusion on the roads was considerable. The party went
by bus from Ugny-le-Gay to Viry Noureuil, arriving there at 4 a.m.
They came under orders of the 3rd Corps, being attached to the
58th Division, and took up a partly dug trench line between Viry
Noureuil and Noureuil. Colonel Burt was under the direct
command of the G.O.C. 173rd Infantry Brigade.
At 5.30 a.m. on the 22nd Headquarters (6th Cavalry Brigade)
marched to Villequier Aumont and General Seymour assumed
command of the 3rd Dismounted Division (less 6th Dismounted
Brigade). This consisted of the 7th Dismounted Brigade with
8 machine guns, and the Canadian Dismounted Brigade with
12 machine guns. These two Dismounted Brigades moved into
huts in the Western part of the Bois de Frieres.
Captain G. Babington (North Somerset Yeomanry) joined the
6th Cavalry Brigade as acting Staff Captain early that morning.
Throughout the 22nd the situation remained somewhat obscure.
By mid-day the Germans were up at the Crozat canal. The
3rd Corps, which consisted of the 14th, 1 8th and 58th Divisions, was
reinforced by two dismounted Cavalry Divisions. The 2nd Dis-
mounted Cavalry Division was sent to help the 14th Division. The
6th Dismounted Brigade was already with the 58th Division, and
during the afternoon the 7th Dismounted Brigade was put at the
disposal of the 1 8th Division, the Canadians being kept in Corps
reserve. During the day General Seymour got into touch with
Map showing area of (i) Operation s of 6th Dismounted Brigade, March 2ist— 27th, 1918. (2) Operations of General Harmans Mounted Detachment, March 23rd— 27th, ifji8. i'.
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
forward infantry Brigades, and also supervised the siting of machine 191
guns in Frieres Wood. Reconnaissances were made towards Vouel,
and close touch was kept with 1 8th Division headquarters at Ugny.
At 8.15 p.m. the 7th Dismounted Brigade was ordered to
take up defensive positions along the Eastern edge of Frieres Wood.
The 6th Dismounted Brigade had been busy all that day
improving their trenches and putting up wire. The 3rd Dragoon
Guards were on the right with the 14th Pioneer Battalion on the
Southern flank, the Royals in the centre, and the 10th Hussars on
the left with the 3rd London Regiment to the North.
During the morning of 23rd March the Germans advanced in
great force, and the whole of the 2nd and 3rd Dismounted Cavalry
Divisions were heavily engaged. The 7th and Canadian Brigades
(the latter supporting the 54th Infantry Brigade) were obliged to
fall back through Frieres Wood fighting stubbornly all the way.
The 6th Dismounted Brigade had a day of continuous fighting.
Following on a counter-attack made by the 133rd French Regiment
on Tergnier and the Butts, the Germans delivered a fresh attack
which overwhelmed the French counter-attack and enabled them to
break through in masses near the Butts. Another force broke
through further North and rapidly arrived at the North-east entrance
of Noureuil, which was the extreme left flank of the Brigade. Here
the enemy were stopped by details of headquarters, consisting of
several officers, orderly-room clerks, signallers, cooks, and the
mess waiter. The mess itself was captured. The cavalry line,
which sustained several heavy local attacks at various points, main-
tained its position, and officers of the 6th Dismounted Brigade and
of the 3rd and 4th London Regiments rallied the French infantry
who were falling back. A defensive flank was thrown out and the
village was held till dark.
Early in the afternoon of the 23rd, the Headquarters of the
Dismounted Division (General Seymour) under orders of the t 8th
Division, moved to Ugny. A detachment of the 6th C.F.A. under
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
1 91 8 Lieut. -Colonel C. H. Stringer did excellent work in assisting the
56th Field Ambulance (1 8th Division) to clear all wounded from
Villequier Aumont before falling back on Ugny.
The Germans continued to advance in great force throughout
the afternoon. At 6 p.m. the situation was very serious. It
seemed likely the enemy had got right round Villequier Aumont
and were advancing through the woods above Ugny. Major-
General R. P. Lee, C.B. ( 1 8th Division), ordered General Seymour
to collect every available man in Ugny and take up a defensive
position on the high ground to the North-east of the village. No
one had had any sleep for two nights and the men were exhausted
after heavy fighting. However, they responded cheerfully to this
new demand. By 8.30 p.m. about 2,000 men consisting of dis-
mounted cavalry, elements of various pioneer battalions, infantry
details, machine gun detachments, servants and orderlies were in
position outside the village and began to dig in. The 7th Dis-
mounted Brigade here rejoined the Division. The enemy, however,
did not advance, though there was a certain amount of sniping.
Throughout the offensive the Germans seldom attacked after dark.
At 9.30 p.m. the French arrived and General Seymour's force was
relieved before midnight. During the evening Lieut. -Colonel
R. W. Paterson, D.S.O. (Fort Garry Horse) arrived with a mounted
detachment from Harman's Force, but finding the gap had been filled
by General Seymour he rejoined General Harman next morning.
At 5 a.m. on the 24th the 3rd Dismounted Division with
600 all ranks of the 2nd Dismounted Division marched to Caillouel,
and three hours later moved into bivouac immediately West of
It is difficult to convey any idea of the confusion and
uncertainty which prevailed at this stage of the retreat. The
Germans were advancing so quickly that at anv time they might have
appeared on the high ground which hid Chauny from view. They
were reported to be already in the woods which covered the steep
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
range of hills to the North and North-west. On all sides villages 191
were in flames and ammunition dumps were sending up huge
columns of black smoke. Batteries both French and English
galloped across the open country into action. Armoured cars and
heavy guns in a cloud of dust were passing up and down the roads,
which were already blocked by a ceaseless stream of lorries, tractors,
motor ambulances, British and French troops and civilian refugees.
Walking wounded and small groups of stragglers were making their
way back across the open fields, where, as the German guns moved
up into action, shells began to fall with greater frequency.
During the afternoon Brigadier-General J. E. B. Seely, C.B.,
C.M.G., D.S.O., assumed command of both dismounted Divisions
with headquarters at Appilly, and at the same time the whole force
came under orders of General Diebold commanding the 1 25th French
Infantry Division, and also the entire sector. A liaison officer was
sent to live at his headquarters at Varesnes. Posts were put out
between the Oise canal and the Noyon-Chauny road.
Meanwhile the 6th Dismounted Brigade had been continuously
in action. At 1 a.m. on the morning of the 24th they received
orders from the 58th Division to withdraw to a line about Chauny.
This was done without incident, although the Germans were only
100 yards distant and three-quarters round the village of Noureuil.
At 3.30 a.m. a line was taken up in the sunk road running North
from Chauny with details of the 3rd London Regiment and the
Oxford Hussars on the right and the 133rd French Infantry Division
on the left. At 8.30 a.m. the Germans attacked, and under cover
of the mist advanced to within 20 yards, speaking English. They
were driven back by Hotchkiss and rifle fire. About 9.30 a.m.
the mist lifted and it was found that the French had moved back.
The order was then received to move to Abbecourt. This had to be
done over open country under very heavy machine gun fire, the
Germans having advanced round Chauny and forced the French
back on the left. Practically all the men who had been wounded
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
1 91 8 were carried in blankets across this open plain for about a mile, being
under heavy machine gun and shell fire the whole time. The night
was spent lining the canal in the neighbourhood of Manicamp.
At 9.30 a.m. on 25th March, the 6th Dismounted Brigade was
ordered by Colonel Pichat to move to the high ground South of
Quierzy. This position was occupied, but the Brigade came under
heavy shell fire. The Germans must have got direct observation
on the column as it left Quierzy, as they followed it up with shelling
the whole way, causing many casualties. At 12 noon came orders
from the G.O.C. 173rd Infantry Brigade to re-occupy Quierzy.
But instructions had been received that orders were to come from
the French only. This dual control proved unworkable. Quierzy,
however, was occupied by half the dismounted Brigade, the
remainder being held in reserve.
Early the same morning (25th) the 2nd Dismounted Division
were withdrawn to their horses and the 3rd Dismounted Division
under orders from General Diebold took up a defensive position
from Mondescourt to the canal, a detachment, of Canadians being
sent to help Colonel Pichat at Petit Quierzy.
At 1 1 a.m., under orders of the 3rd Corps, all the dismounted
cavalry (except the 6th Brigade) were withdrawn from the line and
marched back to the horses at Carlepont. The enemy occupied
Appilly about 1.30 p.m., crossed the canal and took up a position
North of the Oise.
The night was spent at Carlepont and the following day the
^rd Cavalry Division (less the 6th Dismounted Brigade and
Harman's detachment) marched to Choisy-au-Bac at the junction of
the Oise and the Aisne about 2 miles from Compiegne.
It was found impossible to extricate the 6th Dismounted
Brigade till the morning of the 26th, when they marched to Besme,
and then to Tracy-le-Mons, being inspected on the way by the
G.O.C. 58th Division (Major-General A. B. E. Cator, D.S.O.), who
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
expressed his satisfaction at the work carried out by the Brigade 191 8
during these tour days ot continuous fighting. The following is
General Cator's Order, which was read to all ranks concerned : —
" My warmest thanks and congratulations to you and all ranks
" ot the 3rd Cavalry Division on the splendid work you have done
" in the XlXth Corps. The fighting spirit and determination dis-
" played have been beyond all praise, and the results achieved have
" been of the greatest value."
On 27th March the 6th Dismounted Brigade rejoined at
Choisy-au-Bac, having covered a very long distance on foot since
the battle started — from La Fere almost to Compiegne. On the
same day General Harman's mounted detachment, of whose doings
during the opening days of the German offensive it is now necessary
to give some account, rejoined the Brigade (see Map to facing
At 9.50 a.m. on 23rd March, General Harman, who commanded
what was left of the 3rd Cavalry Division (not to be confused with
the 3rd Dismounted Division) was notified by telephone that the
Germans had broken through the line at Ham and was ordered to
turn out as many mounted men as possible. To this force the
6th Cavalry Brigade contributed 1 2 officers and 1 50 men under
Major E. H. Watkin Williams (10th Hussars). The men were
raised from the horseholders, who at the ratio of one man to four
horses were all that remained of the 3rd Cavalry Division after the
dismounted party under Colonel Burt had left. On reporting at 3rd
Corps headquarters at Buchoire, General Harman was ordered to take
command of the mounted detachments of the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry
Divisions (about 7 <;o mounted men in all), also of Colonel Theobald's
infantry (600 strong), a detachment of No. 13 Balloon Company
(8 Lewis guns and personnel), "O" Battery R.H.A., one lorry and
one tender. The whole force was to be known as " Harman's
detachment." By 1 p.m. it was concentrated in readiness at
Berlancourt, being joined during the afternoon by Colonel
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
191 8 Theobald's force. Patrols were sent out to Esmery Hallon, Ham,
Muille Villette, Brouchy and Ollezy to get in touch with the enemy.
The same evening mounted detachments were sent to fill the
gap between Villequier Aumont and La Neuville, but finding
General Seymour's force already there (as recounted above) they
returned to Berlancourt early on the 24th March, and during the
morning, in order to protect the left flank of the 14th Division,
took up a position North-east of Villeselve in touch with Theobald's
infantry, who were blocking the Western exits of the village. The
2nd Cavalry Division mounted detachment was sent to clear up the
position between Esmery Hallon and Golancourt.
About 2 p.m. on the 24th, the 6th Cavalry Brigade mounted
detachment, which was then at Berlancourt, was ordered by Lieut. -
Colonel R. W. Paterson, D.S.O. (Fort Garry Horse), who com-
manded the 3rd Cavalry Division detachment, to make a mounted
attack on some hostile infantry and machine guns on the line Hill 8 1
— Copse A — Copse B (see Map 1 1 facing page 84). The infantry
were very shaky, and it was hoped that a successful mounted attack
would regain some of the ground which had been lost, and also
The detachment (roughly equal in numbers to a squadron)
moved along the main road to Villeselve, taking the sunken track
running North into Collezy. On approaching Collezy the
Squadron came under heavy machine gun fire from the direction of
Golancourt, but got under cover of a large farm at the South-east
exit of the village.
The Squadron which was under the command of Major E. H.
Watkin Williams (10th Hussars) with Captain C. W. Turner
(Royals) second in command was formed into three troops by
regiments, the 3rd Dragoon Guards under Lieutenant A. B. P. L.
Vincent, M.C., the 10th Royal Hussars under Lieutenant Viscount
Ednam, and The Royal Dragoons under Lieutenant the Hon.
W. H. Cubitt.
Map illustrating the Charge of the Composite Squadron of the 6th Cavalry Brigade near Villeselve.
which got away
German )„<■ (^~\C 0/ Dse> 3
3 German MCs" * [
captured in charge
6<k CAVALRY BRIGADE TROOPS BEHIND THE FARM.
<ck CAVALRY BRIGADE TROOPS ATTACHING
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
The plan of attack had been explained to troop leaders on the 1 9
way. Lieutenant Vincent was ordered to move towards Copse " B."
He was to charge any Germans he encountered and secure the right
flank. The 10th Hussars and Royals were to make the main
attack towards Copse " A."
The 3rd Dragoon Guards moved off immediately, and almost
at once came under machine gun tire. They advanced at a steady
pace and soon encountered parties of German infantry, some of
whom ran into the Copse where they were followed on foot. Many
were shot at point blank range as they ran away. Twelve prisoners
were handed over to the infantry and the right flank was secured.
As soon as the 3rd Dragoon Guards were on their way the
roth Hussars and Royals started. The formation was troops in
line, first the 10th Hussars, then the Royals about 150 yards behind.
When the charge started the men were knee to knee, but owing to
machine gun fire and the fast pace they tended to open out and by
the time the enemy was reached were more or less extended.
On clearing the farm the head of the column wheeled slightly
to the left and passed through a few scattered parties of our infantry.
The Germans were then clearly seen in front of Copse "A." The
distance to be covered was about 600 yards, the last 200 yards being
over plough. There was considerable machine gun fire from the
The 10th Hussars advanced steadily and when the enemy
saw mounted troops making straight for them and heard the men
cheering, they began to surrender freely. The 10th Hussars rode
straight through the enemy, the Royals following and mopping up
small parties who had run together. After the melee, " Rally "
was sounded, prisoners were collected, and the Squadron returned
to the main Berlancourt — Villeselve road, wounded being picked up.
Ninety-five prisoners were brought in by the 10th Hussars and
the Royals, making a total of 107 in all. The number, however,
was really greater, as small bodies of the enemy kept giving them-
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
1 9 1 8 selves up to the infantry who followed up the charge. One machine
gun was brought back intact, one was presented to the Commander
of the French infantry, and one was put out of action. The machine
gun on the left flank was not captured as owing to the heavy plough
it was able to get away just in time. Besides the prisoners, between
70 and 100 Germans were sabred. The casualties of the Squadron
were about 73 out of 1 50, but comparatively few were killed.
Lieutenant Hon. W. H. Cubitt (Royals) was mortally wounded
during the attack, whereby one of the most promising young officers
in the Brigade was lost.
The whole operation though small in itself is a brilliant proof
of what cavalry can do when they have the chance of being used
in their proper capacity. Probably no better example of the value
of shock action could be found in the history of the whole war.
The manoeuvre gave the infantry renewed confidence, and they were
able to push forward their line well beyond the limits of the charge,
thus enabling the remnants of two battalions who had been fighting
near Cugny to retire on Villeselve and re-form. Demoralisation of
the enemy, encouragement of our own tired troops, the immediate
capture of important ground — these are solid advantages which the
expert soldier has always realised cavalry could give. But the
opportunities have been few. All the more pity that on 21st March
two-thirds of the three cavalry divisions available had to be thrown
into the battle on foot.
At 4.55 p.m. on the 24th, Harman's detachment was ordered
to withdraw to Guiscard, mounted troops covering the retirement
of all infantry in the district.
The enemy were now developing a determined attack in a
Southerly direction on a rough line — Montdidier — Lassigny —
Noyon — Appilly. It was of the utmost importance to prevent him
breaking through between Lassigny and Noyon, so that the salient
formed by the Oise immediately South of Noyon might hold out
(see Map to facing page 78). In this work the cavalry played a
most effective part. g/r
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
Throughout the night of 24th - 25th March Harman's 1918
detachment was active, and at 1.30 p.m. on the 25th it came under
orders of the 10th French Division. During the afternoon the
2nd and 3rd Cavalry Division detachments went up to Munrancourt
to support the French. About 6 p.m. the French began to fall
back, and the cavalry were ordered to cover their retirement.
Early on 26th March a further force was collected from all
available mounted men at Carlepont, the 6th Cavalry Brigade finding
5 officers and 89 other ranks. They joined what was called Reynolds'
Force,* coming under the orders of Lieut. -Colonel A. B. Reynolds
(12th Lancers, commanding the Northumberland Hussars). From
the 27th to the 29th this force was employed patrolling the line
Chiry — Thiescourt — Lassigny — Canny — Biermont. This front
was now held entirely by French troops, supported by British
artillery. The information obtained by the cavalry patrols as to
the position of the French and enemy forces was of great value
to the artillery (see Map 10 facing page 78).
-Meanwhile, at 3.30 a.m. on 26th March Harman's detachment
withdrew through the French infantry to reserve at Dives. But at
9.50 a.m. the enemy being reported in the Bois des Essarts, the
2nd Cavalry Division detachment were ordered to take up a position
at Charbonneaux Farm and at 10.35 a - m - ot "ders were given to the
3rd Cavalry Division detachment to push the enemy out of the
Bois des Essarts and Mont de Porquericourt. This was done suc-
cessfully, the attack being made by the Canadian and part of the
7th Cavalry Brigade detachments. The remainder of the 7th Cavalry
Brigade and the 6th Cavalry Brigade detachment protected the right
flank by holding the Bois de la Reserve. Touch was obtained with
the 2nd Cavalry Division and a continuous line to Lagny established.
The Germans, however, crossed the river at Catigny and broke
- During the night 24th-25th March, Colonel Reynolds drew 120 horses from the
led horses of the 3rd Cavalry Division, and with the 120 men of his regiment thus
mounted joined Harman's detachment at 8 a.m. on the 25th.
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
191 8 through the French line near Candor, thus turning the left flank of
the 2nd Cavalry Division, who were compelled to withdraw to
Dives. This in turn exposed the left flank of the 3rd Cavalry
Division detachment. The 6th Cavalry Brigade detachment was
therefore ordered to push forward mounted to support the
2nd Cavalry Division (1 6th Lancers) and were the last troops to with-
draw. Led horses were sent back and the 2nd Cavalry Division
informed that the 3rd Cavalry Division would protect their left
flank. A rearguard action was then fought on foot, a determined
stand being made at Cuy, which enabled the 6th Cavalry Brigade to
get clear. The action was continued over the Bois de la Reserve,
the 3rd Cavalry Division detachment finally crossing the river at
Evricourt, where the French had dug themselves in.
Harman's detachment then received orders to withdraw to
Thiescourt and from there went into reserve at Elincourt late on
the evening of the 26th.
On 27th March the whole force broke up and the 3rd Cavalry
Division detachment (less those who formed part of Reynolds'
Force) joined the dismounted parties at Choisy-au-Bac.
Throughout this period, whether working with mounted or
dismounted detachments, the 6th C.F.A. never failed to evacuate
all wounded. In spite of the fact that casualty clearing stations
were constantly moving back, and it became almost impossible to
obtain accurate information with regard to the location of medical
units, the 6th C.F.A. passed back large numbers of wounded first
to Noyon and later to a French Hospital at Compiegne.
The Brigade, either mounted or dismounted, had been
marching and fighting continuously since 21st March. It now
remained at Choisy-au-Bac for three days. The horses were on
the edge of the forest of Compiegne, about a mile South of Choisy-
au-Bac, and the men in bivouac alongside. On the night 27th-28th
there was a severe bombing attack by hostile aircraft, one man being
killed and a number of men and horses wounded.
THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE
On 29th March the detachment from Reynolds' Force rejoined 191 8
and, except for the absence of " C " Battery, the 6th Cavalry Brigade
was once more a complete mounted lighting force. The following
statement appeared in the Commander-in-Chief's despatch of
30th March : —
" During the past week our cavalry have fought with great
" gallantry, both mounted and dismounted, and have repulsed the
" enemy, inflicting heavy losses on him in numerous engagements."
The whole line from Montdidier to the Oise canal at Sempigny
now seemed more secure and the danger point shifted to Amiens.
191 8 ^^ .». n 29th March the Brigade marched through Compiegne
and Arsy to Clermont, and then to Airion for the night.
The area was crowded. In the small farm allotted to
Brigade headquarters there were also a squadron of
French Dragoons and a working party of 300 Italians.
Late that night General Seymour attended a conference at Divisional
headquarters near St. Just-en-Chaussee.
On 30th March the Brigade made a long trek of 35 miles
through St. Just-en-Chaussee and Berny to Sains-les-Amiennois.
All three regiments the Machine Gun Squadron and 6th C.F.A., in
addition to the 7th Cavalry Brigade, were in bivouac in and around
a gigantic farm on the outskirts of the woods one-and-a-half miles
South-east of Sains. It poured with rain throughout the march and
during the night.
That evening Lieutenant R. Heyworth Savage (Royals) joined
Brigade headquarters as Brigade Signalling Officer, in place of
Captain R. S. Stancliffe (2nd Life Guards), who had been promoted
to command the 3rd Signal Squadron.
The Brigade remained at Sains over Easter Sunday, and on
Monday, 1st April, moved at 6 a.m. through Boves to the Bois de
Gentelles in support of the 2nd Cavalry Division who (with the
Canadian Cavalry Brigade attached and later with the 7th Cavalry
Brigade) were engaged in Rifle Wood, South-east of Hourges.
Patrols were sent out to Morgemont Wood and also towards
Marcelcave and a liaison officer was sent to the 2nd Cavalry Division.
The Brigade remained in readiness all day and passed the night in
Tronville Wood (1,000 yards West of the Bois de Blangy). The
2nd April was spent in bivouac, further patrols being sent out to
get in touch with the infantry. At 8 p.m. that night the Royals
marched to a concealed position about 1,500 yards North-west of 191 8
Villers Bretonneux, and then went forward to dig a series of strong
points in the neighbourhood of the Bois de Vaire.
Early on 3rd April the 3rd Dragoon Guards and Machine
Gun Squadron marched to the Bois l'Abbe, the Royals also
returning there after digging. Brigade headquarters and the
10th Hussars marched to Fouilloy, the whole Brigade coming under
orders of the 1st Cavalry Division, The 6th C.F.A. was at Blangy-
Tronville. On 3rd April the 14th Infantry Division relieved the
1st Cavalry Division, and the Brigade was ordered to remain in
reserve to the 14th Division. The Royals worked again at the
same line of strong points during the night.
At 5.30 a.m. on 4th April, the enemy opened a heavy bombard-
ment on the whole front of the 14th Division, who had only taken
over the line a few hours before after heavy fighting further South.
Fouilloy was shelled, and at 6.30 a.m. the G.O.C. 14th Division
moved his headquarters to the Orphanage on the Fouilloy — Blangy-
Tronville road, General Seymour and his staff moving there simul-
taneously. The enemy attacked about 6.15 a.m. and our infantry
were forced back from the front line posts. It was essential for the
defence of Villers Bretonneux (and of Amiens) that the high ground
on both sides of the Fouilloy — Warfusee road should be held. The
43rd Infantry Brigade was ordered to move up into position on this
high ground, and shortly afterwards (about 7.15 a.m.) the
10th Hussars with 4 machine guns were ordered to operate on their
left flank (North of the Fouilloy — Warfusee road) and the
3rd Dragoon Guards and the Royals with 8 machine guns on their
right flank (North-east of Villers Bretonneux). In the event of
the infantry not having arrived on this high ground, it was to be
held by the cavalry at all costs. Meanwhile the bivouac of the
Royals and Machine Gun Squadron in the Bois l'Abbe had
been heavily shelled, and they had been forced to move out into
the valley between the wood and Fouilloy.
191 8 The 10th Hussars moved up without delay on the left
flank, and shortly afterwards the 3rd Dragoon Guards followed
by the Royals came up on the right. All three regiments
advanced mounted at a fast pace, and the Royals and 10th
Hussars came into action immediately, one squadron of the
3rd Dragoon Guards forming a defensive flank. All horses were
sent back, and the men fought dismounted. The Germans were
attempting to advance all along the line, and there was a gap, both
on the left flank between what remained of the 41st and 42nd
Infantry Brigades and on the right flank between the 41st Infantry
Brigade and the Australians. Both these gaps were filled, that on
the left by the 10th Hussars and that on the right by the Royals.
The situation on the right was only just saved in time. The
Germans were attempting to push forward in large numbers
and U B" Squadron (Royals) (Captain C. W. Turner, M.C.)
at once took up a position just North of the main Amiens —
St. Quentin road, being shortly afterwards reinforced by
"A" Squadron (Captain E. W. T. Miles, M.C). There was still
a considerable gap which was temporarily held by the R.S.M. and
headquarter orderlies of the regiment until " C " Squadron (Captain
W. P. Browne, M.C.) came up to relieve them. At 1 1.45 Brigade
headquarters moved to a point about 500 yards North of Villers
Bretonneux, and divisional headquarters moved up to the Orphanage
at Fouilloy. By mid-day the situation was in hand and the cavalry
with elements of the 14th Division held a more or less definite line
from Vaire-sous-Corbie, West of the Bois de Vaire to a point about
1,000 yards East of Villers Bretonneux on the main Amiens — St.
The work done by the 6th Cavalry Brigade on the morning of
4th April is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of the value
of a mounted mobile reserve which the whole war has to offer.
Villers Bretonneux was the key to Amiens and the Germans fully
realised that fact, as was proved by the several attempts which they
Map illustrating operations of 6th Cavalry Bri gade on April 4th and 5th, 1918
ft «Vatre -»ous-Corbi«
made on later occasions to take and hold the place. When the 191 8
6th Cavalry Brigade came into action about 8.0 a.m. that morning
the way to Villers Bretonneux lay open, and the Germans were
advancing quickly. It was not a question even of an hour or two.
It was a question of minutes. The only roads by which infantry in
lorries could have been rushed up were under concentrated shell
tire. None but mounted troops moving quickly over open country
could have saved the situation.
During the morning the 7th Cavalry Brigade had moved up
into a position of readiness and a squadron of the 1 7th Lancers was
sent to reinforce " B " Squadron of the Royals, who were in
touch with the Australians on their right. The enemy were
several times reported to be massing for attack, and the 14th
Divisional artillery dealt with these targets. At 1.45 p.m. the
10th Hussars reported that a heavy attack was developing between
the Bois de Vaire and Hamel. Machine gun and rifle fire largely
stopped this attack which broke down completely.
•The 6th C.F.A. were in the Chateau just West of the Bois
l'Abbe. A medical officer and bearers were in direct touch with
headquarters of regiments, and both cavalry and Australian wounded
were evacuated down the main road in motor ambulances which were
able to pass right up through Villers Bretonneux.
At 2.15 p.m. the 7th Dragoon Guards with 4 machine
guns were sent to reinforce the 10th Hussars. At 5.^0 p.m.
the Australians began to move back on the right flank. This
was reported by Colonel Wormald, who attempted to ascertain
the reason for their withdrawal. The squadron of the 1 7th Lancers,
which was already in support to the Royals, moved forward at the
gallop and formed a defensive flank and as soon as the two remaining
squadrons of the 17th Lancers came up they occupied the posts
immediately North of the Villers Bretonneux — Warfusee road.
Meanwhile Captain S. G. Howes, M.C. (Brigade Major) was sent to
gain touch with the Australian headquarters, and the Australians,
1 91 8 who had withdrawn entirely through a misunderstanding, at
once resumed their former positions. By 7 p.m. the situation
was quiet. Heavy rain fell throughout the day and continued
during the night. There was no cover of any kind. Conditions
could hardly have been worse.
During the night the 3rd Cavalry Division with the
15th Australian Brigade relieved the 14th Division, of which two
Brigades had suffered very heavy casualties. The 6th Cavalry
Brigade with the Inniskilling Dragoons and the 17th Lancers, held the
right sector from the Fouilloy — Warfusee road to the Villers Bre-
tonneux — Warfusee road, the 7th Dragoon Guards being in reserve.
All horses were sent back to Tronville Wood. At 8 a.m. on 5th April,
the valley where Brigade headquarters was situated was shelled, and
headquarters moved to a quarry about 1,000 yards South of
Fouilloy. At 10.45 a - m - tne enemy opened a heavy bombardment
on the whole sector which continued for three-quarters of an hour,
and was accompanied by an accurate indirect machine gun barrage.
The enemy, who attempted to attack under cover of this bombard-
ment, were held up by our artillery and machine gun fire, but
appeared in considerable force on the sky line about 900 yards from
our posts and began to dig in. This excellent target was satis-
factorily dealt with by our artillery.
At 2 p.m. a message was received from the 3rd Cavalry
Division, saying that the Australian battalion on the left reported the
enemy appeared to be massing along the whole front. This attack
however, never developed. The rest of the day passed quietly, and
at 10.30 p.m. the relief of the 6th and 7th Cavalry Brigades by
the Australians began, being completed by 3.30 a.m.
All regiments were back in Tronville Wood by 5 a.m. on
6th April, and at 9.30 a.m. the Brigade (less the Machine Gun
Squadron, who remained another 24 hours in the line) marched into
billets at Camon.
The casualties during the last two weeks were : — 1 9 1 8
Brigade Headquarters (including 6th Signal Troop and 13th
M.V.S.): Other ranks, 2 killed, 6 wounded. 3rd Dragoon
Guards : Officers, Lieutenant N. T. King (killed), Lieutenant F. B.
Katinakis (died of wounds), Lieutenant T. Kohler, Captain R. B.
Allen, Lieutenant R. D. Younger, Lieutenant M. J. Clery
(wounded); other ranks, 25 killed, 51 wounded, 13 missing. The
Royal Dragoons : Officers, Lieutenant Hon. W. H. Cubitt (died of
wounds), Captain H. McCall Johnson (A.V.C.) (died of wounds),
Lieutenant A. R. Cooper, Lieutenant D'A. F. Harris, Lieutenant
E. St. G. Stedall (wounded); other ranks, 17 killed, 59 wounded,
8 missing. 10th Hussars: Officers, 2nd-Lieutenant R. G. Field
(killed), Lieut.-Colonel H. A. Tomkinson, D.S.O., Major
E. H. Watkin Williams, Captain E. W. E. Palmes, M.C.,
Lieutenant Viscount Ednam, M.C., Lieutenant W. J. Brisley,
Lieutenant F. R. Gaskell, 2nd-Lieutenant H. D. Kelleway
(wounded); other ranks, 9 killed, 61 wounded, 15 missing. 6th
Machine Gun Squadron : Officers, Captain F. B. Ratcliffe (died of
wounds), Lieutenant G. H. Eaton (killed), Lieutenant J. A. Wilkes
(missing, believed killed), Lieutenant A. Cole, Lieutenant A. W. G.
Windham, 2nd-Lieutenant R. C. Hollis (wounded); other ranks,
2 killed, 29 wounded, 4 missing. 6th C.F.A. : Officers, Captain
A. W. Forrest (wounded); other ranks, 1 killed, 12 wounded.
On 6th April reinforcements from the North Somerset
Yeomanry, whose conversion into a dismounted force had not been
proceeded with owing to the offensive, arrived, and officers and
men were allotted to the three regiments. The Brigade was
extremely fortunate in receiving this excellent personnel at a time
when it was so much needed. Of the officers who returned, Captain
A. B . Mitchell and Captain A. W. Phipps had been with the
North Somerset Yeomanry throughout the war. Lieut.-Colonel
F. H. D. C. Whitmore, C.M.G., D.S.O., took over command of
the 10th Royal Hussars,
191 8 The Brigade remained at Camon from 6th April to nth April,
and was fully occupied in reorganising and refitting.
It is perhaps worth recording that on the first day of the battle
(March 2 1st) at least 64 German divisions took part in the operations.
This number considerably exceeded the total forces composing the
entire British Army in France. The British forces on the original
battle front on the morning of 21st March consisted of 25 infantry
divisions and three cavalry divisions.
Some short account must now be given of the doings of
"C" Battery from 21st March to this date (see Map 9 facing
When the barrage started on 21st March, " C " Battery, who
were in position near Jeancourt, immediately opened fire on S.O.S.
lines. Owing to the fog, together with the smoke and gas, great
difficulty was experienced in laying. Within half-an-hour the only
communication with the rear was by runners. The group telephone
exchange was destroyed by a direct hit. Visual signalling was
impossible owing to the fog. About 1.30 p.m. the fog lifted and
Germans crossing the ridge by Grand Priel Wood were engaged over
open sights. Several of the gun pits were blown in, but the guns
moved into the open and remained in action, until about 5.45 p.m.,
when the battery was ordered to withdraw a section at a time. An
anti-tank gun with all available shrapnel was left behind until dusk.
The battery withdrew to a position on the Vendelles — Bernes
road, and on 22nd March marched to St. Christ, then back
to Bouvincourt (occupying various positions on the way) where
it came into action. During the night the Battery was withdrawn
again and during the morning of the 23rd it fought several rear-
guard actions notably on the slope West of Brie, where with the
1 6th Brigade it had excellent shooting over open sights. As it
retired from this open position and crossed the Somme near Brie,
the battery came under heavy fire from three or four enemy batteries
and a large flight of aeroplanes. A covered position was finally
taken up West of Briost to cover the crossing at St. Christ. The 191
battery was in action throughout the night and on 24th March
moved to a position West of Barleux. Here Captain E. T. Boylan,
M.C., took over temporary command, Major Barnwell going to
command the 4th Brigade R.H.A. in the absence of Colonel A. R.
Wainewright. At 1 p.m. the enemy were advancing in force on
Barleux, and the battery received orders to withdraw to Assevillers,
from where it had excellent targets, moving at dusk to Dompierre.
On 25th March the battery, which was in support of a Brigade
of the 66th Division acting as rearguard to the main body, did con-
siderable execution on the enemy advancing between Assevillers
and Dompierre, and about 10 a.m. retired to a second position South
of Chuignes to prevent the enemy molesting the rearguard marching
down the main road from Villers Carbonnel to Villers Bretonneux.
As soon as the rearguard had passed Foucaucourt the battery was
ordered to go into action just North of Harbonnieres (see Map 13
facing page 104).
On the morning of the 26th the enemy continued his attack
and the battery fired continuously at hostile waves of infantry
crossing the high ground East of Vauvillers, occupying a new
position West of Harbonnieres about mid-day and remaining in
action till dusk. Major Barnwell again took command of the
Before dawn on the 27th the battery was ordered to rendezvous
South of Guillaucourt, showing no lights and making as little noise
as possible, as the enemy were reported in Bayonvillers on the right
rear. The Luce was then crossed at Ignaucourt and a position
taken up with " G " and " K " Batteries South of Cayeux, covering
the high ground on the North of the river. Here the enemy were
engaged and driven back. That evening a further withdrawal
was ordered, first to Ignaucourt then to Hangard.
On 28th March the battery fired from this position, and about
mid-day received orders to retire to Villers Bretonneux, where it
1 91 8 came into action in the station yard. "G" and "K" Batteries
being withdrawn, " C " Battery was now the foremost battery of
artillery on this sector. On 2nd April Captain Boylan again took
On the morning of 4th April the enemy attacked, the
preliminary bombardment being very heavy on the station. Obser-
vation was impossible owing to the thick mist, and all firing had to
be done from the map until the afternoon, when the visibility
improved. The guns and wagon lines suffered severely, one com-
plete detachment being killed by a 5.9. About 4 p.m. our infantry
began to come over the ridge 400 yards in front of the battery,
which was ordered to retire. There were then only one officer
and 1 5 men to man 5 guns. Many of the horses had been hit, and
it was with difficulty that teams could be put together to pull the
guns out through the mud, before the enemy appeared on the ridge
in front. An open position was then taken up South of Cachy
covering Hangard Wood.
On 5th April the battery moved to the p.o.w. cage just East
of the Bois l'Abbe, and during the night a sudden burst of fire
killed three men, wounded eighteen, and hit a large number of
horses, throwing the teams into confusion. A stampede from a
Field Battery's wagon lines almost started " C " Battery's horses, but
owing to the excellent work of the drivers the stampede was
On 9th April the battery marched to the rear wagon lines at
Cagny, having lost since 21st March almost 50 per cent, of its
strength in men and horses. No guns were lost except the one in
the forward position on the first day of the offensive.
During these operations the following officers of the Battery
were wounded : Lieutenant R. Patrick, Lieutenant R. L. Hutchins,
Lieutenant T. Stevens, 2nd-Lieutenant O. L. Boord, 2nd-Lieutenant
M. H. Cooper.
On the morning of 9th April began the German offensive from 1 9 1 8
the La Bassee canal to Bois Grenier developing further North
against Messines the following morning. Throughout 10th April
the 6th Cavalry Brigade stood-to at short notice, and early on
irth April marched through Amiens and Auxi-le-Chateau to the
Buire-au-Bois area, continuing the march the following day and
arriving late at night in billets at Conteville — Hestrus — Eps. While
the Brigade was watering at Wavrans in the dark, hostile aircraft
appeared overhead and tried to hit the St. Pol-Hesdin railway.
Several bombs fell about 50 yards from the horses without doing
At 6 a.m. on 13th April, the Brigade concentrated at Bailleul-
les-Pernes, and later in the day billeted there and at Ferfay and
Aumerval. Merville had been taken on nth April, and the line
now ran immediately East of the Forest of Nieppe and then South-
wards about 2 miles East of St. Venant.
The Brigade remained in this area during the next ten days,
standing-to every morning at 6 a.m. ready to move up in support
of the Xlth Corps. The reserve and support lines from Havers-
kerque to Les Amusoires with roads and lines of approach were
thoroughly reconnoitred by General Seymour and all senior officers.
" C " Battery rejoined from Cagny.
On 1 6th April Lieut.-Colonel A. Burt, D.S.O., left the Brigade
to become G.O.C. 7th Cavalry Brigade, and Lieut.-Colonel C. L.
Rome, D.S.O. (nth Hussars), assumed command of the 3rd
Dragoon Guards. About this time Major A. S. Barnwell, D.S.O.
(" C " Battery), was seriously injured by a fall from his horse and
was evacuated. On 24th April Brigade headquarters with the
6th C.F.A. and the 13th M.V.S. moved to Fontaine-les-Hermans,
and the Royals to Nedonchelle.
On 4th May the Brigade began a three days' trek Southwards,
and marching through St. Pol and Doullens arrived on the afternoon
of 6th May at Contay. Here all units were in bivouac, and came
191 8 into 4th Army Reserve in 3rd Corps area. The enemy were
expected to attack very shortly on this sector. The Brigade
stood-to every morning at 5 a.m. Conferences were held with
infantry commanders, plans worked out for holding important
tactical features (such as Henencourt and Lavieville) and the whole
sector was frequently reconnoitred by General Seymour, and all unit
commanders. Every other night the Brigade found strong digging
parties for work on the line East of Henencourt.
On 1 2th May Captain S. G. Howes, M.C., after having been
on the Brigade Staff for over three years, first as Staff Captain, then
as Brigade Major, was appointed G.S.O.2 of the 3rd Cavalry
Division, and Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C. (10th Hussars), became
Brigade Major in his place.
On 1 7th May the Brigade marched to Belloy-sur-Somme. The
three regiments and machine gun squadron were in bivouac in
the Bois de Belloy, the ambulance and battery being in the village.
On Sunday, 19 th May, after a short Church parade, the Corps
Commander (Lieut. -General Sir C. T. McM. Kavanagh, K.C.B.,
C.V.O., D.S.O.) presented medals awarded to officers and men since
2 1 st March. An Australian band played during the ceremony.
On 20th May Major D. Scott, M.C, took over command of
" C " Battery.
During the next ten days the Brigade carried out mounted and
dismounted training. The weather which had been unusually fine
for several weeks remained extremely hot.
On 27th May the Germans attacked between Chavignon and
Berry-au-Bac and within 4 days reached the Marne.
On 3 1 st May the Brigade marched to Behencourt and went into
bivouac in the wood West of the village and along the banks cf
the River Hallue. Throughout this period the Germans were
expected to attack. At 4 p.m. on 6th June a G.H.Q. telegram was
received saying a German offensive between Montdidier and the
Oise was probable within the next two days and a simultaneous 1( ) 1
attack on this front possible.
Orders having been received that the Brigade might be called
upon to support the 3 ist French Corps in the Moreuil sector, bridges
and roads in this direction were carefully reconnoitred. The attack
between Montdidier and the Oise took place on the 9th, but the
4th Army front remained quiet.
On 14th June the Brigade moved back to Belloy, and the
following day General Seymour with other officers reconnoitred the
ground round the Bois de Gentelles in the event of the French
The Brigade remained at Belloy, but little work could be done
owing to an epidemic of so-called P.U.O. This disease appeared
to be a virulent type of influenza, and was accompanied by high
temperature and often by serious after-effects. Lieut. -Colonel
C. H. Stringer, D.S.O. (O.C. 6th C.F.A.), formed a special hospital
under canvas at Belloy, where by the end of the month there were
close upon 500 cases undergoing treatment.
On 25th June the Brigade moved to the Le Mesge — Soues —
Riencourt area. On 29th June Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C., left
tor England to attend the staff course at Cambridge, and Captain
D. E. Wallace, M.C., on his return from this course a few days
later, became Brigade Major during his absence.
On 4th July " C " Battery (under Lieutenant A. A. Bontor,
M.C.) supported the attack of the Australians on Hamel, and came
into action near Heilly. The Battery fired a barrage at zero for four
hours. It remained in this area until July 11th and fired almost
The Brigade remained in the same area throughout July and
carried out training. The P.U.O. epidemic had almost subsided
by the middle of the month. On 75th July the Reverend A.
Rowland Grant, M.Y.O., joined the Brigade as Chaplain.
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
1 9 1 8 /» — ^ ENERAL SEYMOUR attended a conference at Cavalry
Corps headquarters on Sunday 4th August, and the plans
for the offensive of 8th August, which had been kept
absolutely secret, were explained.
On 6th August at 10.30 p.m. the Brigade marched
to Renancourt, and remained there during the following day. At
9.30 p.m. on 7th August, the Brigade marched to the assembly area
(1,000 yards West of Tronville Wood). Considerable delay was
experienced in Amiens shortly before midnight owing to Tanks on
The battle which began on 8th August not only freed Amiens
and the Paris-Amiens railway, but proved to be the first of a series
of tremendous battles which only ended three months later (on
nth November), when the enemy, completely broken and in rout,
was forced to sign an unconditional armistice.
The operations of 8th August may be summarised thus: —
The 4th Army was attacking the German positions between
Morlancourt and the Amiens — Roye road, the 1st French Army
operating to the South. There were two objectives which affected
the Cavalry :
(1) The Red Line: Mezieres — Cayeux — West of Harbon-
nieres; (2) The Blue Line : East of Le Quesnel — East of Caix —
East of Harbonnieres (see Map 13 facing page 104).
The 3rd Cavalry Division was to work with the 1st and 3rd
Canadian Infantry Divisions till the Red Line was reached (the
1 st Cavalry Division working with the 2nd Canadian and
5th Australian Divisions to the North of the railway) and was then
to pass through the infantry and seize and hold the Blue Line,
exploiting any success to the East of it, if possible.
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
The morning was dry and foggy. The attack of the infantry i 9 1
in conjunction with numerous Tanks proved a complete surprise,
and went well from the start.
At 5.40 a.m. the Brigade followed the 7th Cavalry Brigade
up the cavalry track which led almost due East, skirting Cachy on
the North and crossing the front line about 1,000 yards East of that
village. The Brigade halted just outside Cachy until 9.30 a.m.
and then advanced to a point East of Morgemont Wood. At 10.50
the Brigade moved down into the Luce valley and crossing
the river at Demuin passed shortly afterwards through the infantry.
The Canadian Cavalry Brigade was now fighting in and about
Beaucourt, and the 7 th Cavalry Brigade took Cayeux Wood at the
gallop, rounding up over 200 prisoners and taking several machine
guns. The taking of Cayeux Wood in the face of strong
opposition was a brilliant piece of work and is yet another
example of what can be done by cavalry in open warfare.
At 1 p.m. the Royals with 4 machine guns were sent to
support the 7th Cavalry Brigade. " C " Battery came into
action near Beaucourt. At 1.45 p.m. the Brigade was ordered
to push forward towards Le Quesnel, but this order was
cancelled, the Royals remaining with the 7th Cavalry Brigade.
A little later the remainder of the 6th Brigade also moved
over to the left flank. The Royals had received verbal instruc-
tions to push forward in support of the 17th Lancers, who
had been ordered to advance towards the Vrely — Warvillers road.
On the arrival of the remainder of the 6th Brigade East of
Cayeux Wood, General Seymour immediately sent on the
10th Hussars to support the Royals, who had reached the
Wood (E15) 1,500 yards South of Caix, but were unable
to advance further owing to the fact that the high ground
from Beaufort to Le Quesnel on their right and the Blue
Line West of Beaufort were strongly held by the enemy. The
10th Hussars were also unable to advance, but patrols were sent
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
1 9 1 8 forward and arrangements made for the regiment to work round
on the left flank. It was now about 4 p.m. and the cavalry were
on the Blue Line, having advanced some 14 kilometres since they
had crossed what that morning were the front line trenches.
About this time General Seymour was obliged by illness to
hand over his command to Lieut. -Colonel F. H. D. C. Whitmore,
C.M.G., D.S.O. (commanding the 10th Royal Hussars), and
Captain R. C. Gordon Canning, M.C., took over command of the
10th Royal Hussars. Captain D. E. Wallace, M.C., was Brigade
Major and Captain G. Babington Staff Captain throughout these
and all operations until 20th October.
At 5.30 p.m. orders were received from the Division that the
6th, 7th and Canadian Cavalry Brigades were to hold the Amiens
Outer Defences (i.e., the Blue Line) for the night. The 6th Cavalry
Brigade took over the sector of these defences from a point East
of Ei 5 Wood to the Northern edge of Le Quesnel. " C " Battery
covered the exits from Beaufort. The line consisted of a series
of old trenches organised into posts, and these the Division held
in conjunction with Canadian infantry. The enemy still held Le
Quesnel and the high ground round it. They also occupied
Beaufort and kept the valley West of E15 Wood under continual
machine gun fire. The led horses were in consequence moved on to
the Western slope of the valley.
Throughout the night Colonel Whitmore had to reckon with
the probability of an enemy counter-attack. At 8.30 p.m. the
Royals in the corner of E15 Wood were heavily shelled. The
enemy on several occasions were reported to be massing and S.O.S.
signals were noticed on the flanks. The night, however, passed
off comparatively quietly and early on 9th August orders were
received for the whole Division to concentrate along the river
between Caix and Cayeux. Arrangements with regard to the
relief were made direct with the Canadian infantry, who asked
that the Royals and Machine Gun Squadron should remain in
Map to illustrate operations of 6th C avalry Brigade on August 8th— ioth, 191 8.
= front line morning of August 8th before the attack.
= line on which cavalry were to pass through infantry.
= final objective of cavalry to be exploited East if possible
1 9 1 8
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
position for the present in order to support an attack which was 191 8
to be made at 10 a.m. About 9 a.m. the enemy suddenly began
to shell the valley West of E15 Wood, killing a number of led
horses and inflicting considerable casualties on the men, especially
among the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who were in process of relief.
By noon the Brigade (less the Royals and Machine Gun
Squadron) was concentrated midway between Caix and Cayeux,
Brigade headquarters being in a German bath-house. The Royals
and Machine Gun Squadron rejoined about 1.30 p.m.
At 3.40 a.m. on 10th August the Brigade received orders to
take over patrols of the 2nd Cavalry Division on the front Bouchoir
— Rouvroy, and to move forward at 5.30 a.m. "C" Squadron
(3rd Dragoon Guards) and " A " Squadron (Royals) went on
in advance at 5 a.m. and took over these patrols, the remainder
of the Brigade moving up shortly afterwards to a point about
a mile North-west of Warvillers. The 4th Canadian Division
and the 32nd Division were to attack at 10 a.m. and cavalry
patrols were ordered to keep in close touch. At 10.30 a.m.,
as the infantry attack was reported to have made progress,
the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the Royals were ordered to move
up in support of their advance squadrons, the remainder of
the Brigade moving up near Beaufort. Encouraging accounts
of the infantry advance were received, and Parvillers was
reported captured. This information subsequently proved to
be most inaccurate. At 12.30 Brigade headquarters moved
forward to the Warvillers — Folies road, and two officers' patrols
from the 10th Hussars were sent forward to reconnoitre the ground
for a cavalry advance. About 1.30 p.m. Parvillers was reported
to be still strongly held by the enemy and the infantry unable
Shortly afterwards a Company of Whippets arrived under
command of Major R. A. West, D.S.O., M.C.* (formerly a
* Major R. A. West was posthumously awarded the V.C. for magnificent work
which he did with the Tanks a few days later.
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
1 9 1 8 squadron leader of the North Somerset Yeomanry) and an attack
on Parvillers by the Tanks, in conjunction with the Royals and
3rd Dragoon Guards, was planned. The ground, however, was
reported to be totally unsuitable for the use of cavalry. It was
part of the old Somme battlefield fought over by the French in 19 16,
and was covered by a maze of old trenches, wire and shell holes.
The Royals also reported that any advance over a country
so entrenched and wired would be extremely difficult. The Tank
commander, after further reconnaissance, came to the conclusion that
the ground would be unsuitable even for Whippets, and the attack
was therefore abandoned, the Tanks being recalled.
At 2.30 p.m. a message was received that the Canadian Cavalry
Brigade was to pass through and seize the high ground North-west
of Roye, and the 6th Cavalry Brigade was to be prepared to act
in support. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade went forward about
5 p.m. and shortly afterwards the 10th Hussars were sent up in
support. A troop of the Fort Garry Horse tried to gallop Hill 100
on the main Roye road. The ground on either side being impass-
able for cavalry, they were obliged to charge along the road, but
never reached their objective.
At 6.15 Brigade Headquarters moved up to some old
trenches just West of Le Quesnoy, and the Royals, Battery and
Machine Gun Squadron closed up on the 10th Hussars one mile
South-west of Le Quesnoy. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were already
beyond Le Quesnoy.
Damery and Parvillers were still being obstinately held by the
enemy, and orders were received that no further advance would be
made that night. At 8 p.m. Brigade headquarters was heavily
shelled, with casualties to the men and seven officers' chargers. One
of Captain Wallace's chargers in its fright jumped clean over all
four traces between the leaders and centres of a moving gun team.
At 8.30 p.m. the Brigade moved back, and an hour later was
concentrated West of Folies, where it bivouacked in the open fields.
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
During the night, bombing by hostile aircraft was incessant, but 1918
fortunately there were no casualties.
Throughout the 10th the 6th C.F.A. were the furthest advanced
medical unit on the Amiens — Roye road, and many infantry casualties
were evacuated. After the Canadian mounted attack on Hill 100,
a medical officer and bearers brought in several wounded who were
reported to be still lying out.
At 5.30 p.m. on 1 ith August, the Brigade moved Westwards,
keeping South of the main Roye road, and arrived in bivouac at
Fouencamps shortly after midnight.
During these operations Lieutenant G. H. Perrett (10th
Hussars) was killed, Lieutenant T. Robinson (10th Hussars) and
Lieutenant A. W. G. Windham, M.C. (6th Machine Gun Squadron)
were wounded. Three men were killed, 34 were wounded and
On 13th August the Commander-in-Chief visited Fouencamps
and saw all units in the Brigade.
■ On 15th August Lieut. -Colonel Ewing Paterson, D.S.O.
(6th Inniskilling Dragoons) assumed command of the Brigade, and
the same evening the Brigade moved by night to the Le Mesge
area, arriving about 4 a.m. and remained there a few days.
About midnight on 21st August the Brigade moved to
the Montrelet-Fieffes area, and were in readiness to support an
attack by the 4th and 6th Corps between Moyenville and Beaucourt.
This was the opening of the series of battles which regained the
whole of the old Somme battlefield. The Brigade remained on three
hours' notice during the next three days. The heat was intense.
During the night 2 5th-z6th the Brigade marched to Gueschart,
and the following night moved to Nuncq, remaining on three hours'
notice. During the next few days there were many orders and
counter-orders. Finally the 10th Hussars with 4 machine guns
left the Brigade area for Wailly (3 miles South of Arras). The
Brigade remained on short notice.
THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE
1 91 8 The outstanding feature of this period was the continued
advance of our troops towards the Hindenburg Line and the
breaking of the Queant-Drocourt switch by the Canadian Corps
during the first few days of September (see Map 15 facing
page 118). In this latter attack the 10th Hussars were to
have taken part and moved up to near Arras for this purpose.
They formed part of an Independent Force (under Brigadier-
General R. Bruntinel, C.M.G., D.S.O.) which was divided
into three groups, the leading group being commanded by
Colonel Whitmore and consisting of the 10th Hussars, the Canadian
Light Horse, Motor machine guns, Field artillery, and a section
of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron. As soon as the Queant-
Drocourt switch had been taken, the Independent Force was to move
forward, preceded by a box barrage, and seize the canal crossings at
Marquion and the high ground East of the village. At zero, plus
3 hours and 20 minutes (08.20 hrs.) Colonel Whitmore's force
moved off. Impassable ground on either side confined mounted
troops to the road till well East of Vis-en-Artois. At 9.10 a.m.
Captain the Earl of Airlie, M.C. (commanding the leading squadron
of the 10th Hussars) reported that his patrols could get no further
owing to machine gun fire; and that the armoured cars were unable
to advance owing to strong resistance. Trench mortars were then
brought into action, but with little effect. It was not until our
attack developed further South that the enemy was forced to give
up his position on this sector. The 10th Hussars rejoined the
Brigade on 5th September.
The following day the Brigade moved to Vieil Hesdin, St.
Georges, and Wail. On 1 6th September the Brigade moved into
Hesdin preparatory to taking part in cavalry manoeuvres, in which
it was engaged throughout the following day, billeting the night
near Doullens. On 1 8th September the Brigade moved back to Vieil
Hesdin, and next day marched into the Rebreuve — Frevent area.
ON 25th September the Brigade began a series of three 191 8
night marches, travelling through Bus-les-Artois and
Meaulte, and arriving at Hem (near Peronne) early
on the 28th. On the afternoon of 29th September
the Brigade marched through Peronne and Doingt
to Vermand. The three regiments bivouacked in the fields
along the road from Vermand to Bihucourt. There was a high
wind with drenching rain all night, and there was practically no
shelter of any kind.
Early that morning the 4th Army attacked the Hindenburg
Line on a front of 12 miles from Holnon to Vendhuile. Opposite
Bellenglise the 46th Division with life belts and rafts crossed the
canal and stormed the village. Magny-la-Fosse was also taken,
and the Le Tronquoy tunnel reached. To the North the
2nd American Corps, aided by the Australians, took Nauroy,
Bellicourt and Guillemont Farm (see Map 9 facing page 68).
Throughout the 30th the Brigade stood-to at short notice, and
on 1 st October moved up to Bellenglise in readiness to go forward.
Joncourt, Levergies and the Le Tronquoy tunnel had been captured
that morning and a considerable breach had been made in the
Hindenburg Line. Early on 3rd October the Brigade was again
in assembly position South-west of Bellenglise. Le Catelet,
Sequehart, Montbrehain, and Ramiecourt had been taken by the
4th Army, but the situation was not clear, and about 1 p.m. an
officer's patrol under Lieutenant J. B. Bickersteth (Royals) was sent
forward to gain information. It was found that our troops
had been driven back out of Montbrehain, but that Ramie-
court was still in our hands. Acting on this information
the Brigade moved up to Magny-la-Fosse and a little later was
ordered to move forward and seize the high ground near Brancourt-
191 8 le-Grand. At 4.45 p.m. the 3rd Dragoon Guards reached the
Ramiecourt-Le Vergies road (near the hamlet of Preselles), the
remainder of the Brigade being near Joncourt (see Map 9 facing
page 68). The enemy were in strength on the high ground round
Montbrehain, and the 3rd Dragoon Guards were heavily shelled.
They had two men killed and 13 wounded. A number of horses
were also killed. The Machine Gun Squadron and one section
" C " Battery (under Lieutenant Hutchins) engaged the enemy
It was now almost dark. At 8 p.m. the 3rd Dragoon Guards
(less one squadron which had been left to keep in touch with the
infantry in the line) and the Royals were put at the disposal of the
46th Division, who expected a strong enemy counter-attack. Later
in the evening the whole Brigade (less the advance squadron of the
3rd Dragoon Guards) concentrated North of Pontruet. Night
bombing by the enemy was very severe. One bomb fell on a
company of 100 or more German prisoners who happened at that
moment to be only a short distance from the head of the Brigade
column, and killed more than half of the party outright.
Early on 4th October the advance squadron reported that
Montbrehain and adjoining high ground was still held by enemy
machine guns. The Brigade remained North of Pontruet and the
next day moved to Trefcon. Lieutenant H. C. Soundy (6th Innis -
killing Dragoons) here joined Brigade headquarters as A.D.C.
During the following two days Montbrehain and Beaurevoir
were captured and the enemy forced to withdraw from the Hinden-
burg Line at La Terriere and to the North.
On the 8th October the 3rd and 4th Armies attacked on a
front which extended from Sequehart to the South of Cambrai.
At V45 a - m - that morning the Brigade marched from Trefcon
to a concentration area near Magny-la-Fosse (see Map 9 facing
page 68). From 10 a.m. till noon the Brigade moved by
successive bounds to the valley 2,000 yards North-east of
Map Co illustrate
advance of 6th Cavalry Brigade on 9 th October, 1., ■ -
Estrees. Our infantry were then in and beyond Serain and 191
Fremont, and several regiments of the 1st Cavalry Division
were also engaged. About dusk the Brigade moved back to
near Magny-la-Fosse. Brigade headquarters was established in
a room in the famous Hindenburg Tunnel, which links up Belli-
court, Nauroy, Magny-la-Fosse and Le Tronquoy by a vast
subterranean system. The tunnel, which resembled a large under-
ground town, was provided with a light railway (with sidings) and
was Jit by electricity throughout. The four Germans who
managed the two electric light plants were captured at the same time
as the tunnel and were obliged to continue working for the British.
They pretended for several days that one of the electric plants was
mined, but on the engine being started up in the presence of one
British officer (the tunnel having first been cleared of all troops for
safety) this proved to be false.
Night bombing by the enemy was again very severe. No
fires could be lighted after dark and throughout these operations
it was. impossible to arrange for the men to have any hot meals either
when starting before dawn or on arrival in bivouac after sundown.
Infantry " cookers " would have been invaluable.
At 1.50 a.m. on 9th October, orders were received for the
Brigade to concentrate by 7 a.m. near Geneve. This entailed
moving in the dark over country covered with wire and trenches.
On arriving at Geneve General Paterson and Captain Wallace went
on to a conference at advanced divisional Headquarters, and at
8.35 a.m. the Brigade was ordered to move forward at the
trot, as our infantry were reported East of Maretz and touch
had been lost with the enemy. The Royals acted as advance
guard to the Brigade and were ordered to move immediately,
keeping parallel to and South of the main Le Cateau road, the
10th Hussars to follow the Rovals with one squadron as right flank
guard. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade was on the left. The
Brigade moved at a fast pace to Maretz, and there came under fire
1 9 1 8 from the direction of Honnechy and Escaufourt. " C " Squadron
(Royals) (Captain W. P. Browne, M.C.) was ordered to push on
if possible towards Honnechy and Maurois. This squadron
reached the quarry near the railway on the Western outskirts of
Honnechy. Lieutenant J. F. Houstoun-Boswall with his scouts
pushed forward to a house in the railway fork South-west of the
village. The enemy were occupying the hedges and orchards on
the edge of Honnechy, and also the high ground to the South.
While making a personal reconnaissance about 11.30 a.m.,
General Paterson met the Brigade Major of the Infantry Brigade
which had advanced East of Maretz and was now being held up
by the enemy in and around Honnechy. The latter said that the
infantry were exhausted and that in view of the strong forces
opposed to them it was not intended to advance further that day.
About noon a conference was held between Major-General Harman
commanding the 3rd Cavalry Division, and the G.Os.C. 6th and
Canadian Cavalry Brigades. It appeared that the Canadian Cavalry
Brigade was held up and could not advance further, unless Honnechy
and Reumont were captured. It was therefore decided that the
6th Cavalry Brigade should take these villages as soon as possible,
and then seize the high ground West of Le Cateau. The Innis-
killing Dragoons from the 7th Cavalry Brigade were placed at the
disposal of General Paterson and orders were issued for the attack
to take place at 2 p.m.
The general idea of the operations was that the Royals should
make a mounted attack on Honnechy and Maurois from the West
and from the positions already held by that regiment. The 10th
Hussars were to follow in support of the Royals and advance as the
attack progressed. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were to advance from
the North of Busigny and attack Honnechy from the South-west.
The Inniskilling Dragoons were to follow in support of the 3rd
Dragoon Guards and form a defensive flank facing Escaufourt and
Bois Proyart. " C " Battery was to take up a position South-east of
Maretz and fire on the South-western outskirts of Honnechy, while 191 8
our troops were advancing. The 6th Machine Gun Squadron was
to cover the advance of the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards and
keep down the enemy's fire from Honnechy.
The attack of the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards began
simultaneously. As each unit advanced heavy H.E. and machine
gun fire was opened on them. A large number of enemy aircraft
also suddenly appeared and coming down to a low altitude followed
the attacking troops with bombs and machine gun fire.
The Royals almost at once came to a deep railway cutting which
was not marked on the map and had to swing northwards, cross the
railway further up and gallop round the northern edge of Maurois.
They arrived at a farm on the Le Cateau road midway between
Maurois and Reumont. Reumont was still held and enemy machine
guns were firing straight down the road from the village at a range
of, about 400 yards. Captain Browne's Squadron, which was still
leading, suffered some casualties in trying to cross. Colonel
Wormald decided to get his regiment across the road slightly further
back and then seize the high ground South-east of Reumont. This
operation was carried out with signal success, and the Royals gained
the ridge, forcing the enemy to retire out of Reumont.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Dragoon Guards advanced from North of
Busigny. Captain N. K. Worthington's Squadron which was
leading at once came under heavy enfilade fire from the direction
of Escaufourt and Bois Proyart. The going was fairly good but
the ground was cut up by numerous small ditches. There was one
wide brook with a bad take-off, but not a single horse refused.
Fortunately the ground was free of wire. As each squadron came
to the railway embankment it had to close in to pass under the
bridge by which the railway crossed the road. Tt was here that
most of the casualties occurred. The squadrons then opened out
again and made the final o-allop towards Honnechy (which was taken
about 2.30 p.m.) afterwards occupving the orchards to the East of
1 91 8 the village. The orchards were soon heavily shelled, and Colonel
Rome was wounded.
This mounted attack by the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards
was carried out with great dash and skill. The bursting H.E., the
rattle of the machine gun fire both from the ground and from the
air, the explosion of the bombs dropped from the aeroplanes — all
contributed to make the noise absolutely deafening.
As the two regiments advanced through the infantry the latter
rose as one man and advanced with a great cheer, forgetting their
former weariness and following in close support:. This successful
attack enabled the Canadian Cavalry Brigade on the North of the Le
Cateau road to advance and capture several hundred prisoners, about
seventy machine guns, and several guns and trench mortars.
Enemy fire had now increased in volume, and Honnechy and
all positions held by the Brigade were under continuous shelling.
The Brigade suffered considerable casualties both in men and horses,
especially the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who had also lost heavily during
their advance. From the position gained considerable forces of
the enemy, with a line of machine guns backed by several field
guns, could be seen occupying the ridge which just hid Le Cateau
from view. At this time the only troops in hand were one
squadron of the 10th Hussars holding the Eastern edge of
Honnechy, and half the Machine Gun Squadron who were
with them. At 5 p.m. verbal orders were given to Colonel
YYormald and Colonel Whitmore to push on as soon as possible.
A few minutes later, however, orders were received from the 3rd
Cavalry Division that the 7th Cavalry Brigade was to seize the final
objective, the 6th Cavalry Brigade remaining in close support. The
Inniskillings who had been ordered to push on towards Le Cateau
were therefore diverted to the 7th Cavalry Brigade, less one squadron,
which remained on the right flank.
A line of posts and machine guns was then established from
Honnechy to Reumont, both inclusive. Heavy machine gun fire
continued from East of Reumont, and there was considerable 191 8
shelling with H.E. and Blue Cross. A low-flying aeroplane
succeeded in dropping two bombs on a squadron of the 10th Hussars
and on a troop of the Royals, which wounded four officers. The
same bombs killed and. wounded a number of men and killed many
horses. Brigade headquarters was established in the farm on the Le
Cateau road between Reumont and Maurois. The 6th C.F.A.
opened a large dressing station at Maretz during the afternoon,
where many sick and wounded civilians were treated and fed as
well as the ordinary casualties.
Meanwhile the Canadian Cavalry Brigade on the left had
reached Troisvilles and the high ground to the East of it with one
squadron at Rambourlieux Farm, the 7th Cavalry Brigade being
in touch with them to the South. It was now dark and no further
progress could be made. The 1 8th Corps Cyclists came up and
took over the outpost line, the Royals then being in support, and
the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 10th Hussars, and 7th Dragoon Guards
in reserve. Except for intermittent shelling, the night passed
At 5 a.m. on 10th October, the Brigade concentrated in the
valley between Reumont and Troisvilles and got into touch with
7th Cavalry Brigade, who were near Rambourlieux Farm. At
8 a.m. the Brigade moved up to the East of Troisvilles in closer
support, moving back in the early afternoon to its former position
to make room for the 7th Cavalry Brigade, who were being shelled.
" C " Battery R.H.A. came under orders of C.R.H.A., and took
part in the barrage during the infantry attack at 5 p.m., rejoining
in the evening. One direct hit mortally wounded Lieutenant B.
McLachlan, M.C., killed two men, wounded three, and damaged
14 wheels so badly that they were unfit for further use. During
the afternoon the Brigade moved back to Montigny and went into
bivouac outside the village. On 1 1 th October the Brigade moved
to Elincourt, where all men and horses were under cover.
191 8 The casualties were: — 3rd Dragoon Guards: Lieutenant V.
Oakley-Brown (killed), Lieutenant E. A. L. Kittle (died of wounds),
Lieut.-Colonel C L. Rome, D.S.O., Captain H. P. Holt, Lieutenant
B. H. Osmaston (wounded); other ranks, 2 killed, 27 wounded.
The Royal Dragoons : Other ranks, 4 killed, 29 wounded.
10th Hussars: Captain W. S. Murland, Lieutenant F. C. Drake,
M.C., Lieutenant S. A. Ralli, Lieutenant S. J. Tufnell (Essex
Yeomanry, attached 10th Hussars), Lieutenant W. Ritchie (Essex-
Yeomanry, attached 10th Hussars) wounded; other ranks, 7 killed.
« C " Battery R.H.A. : Lieutenant B. McLachlan, M.C. (killed),
Lieutenant A. Bontor (wounded); other ranks, 1 killed, 4 wounded.
6th Machine Gun Squadron : Lieutenant H. N. Ellis (killed); other
ranks, 3 killed. The 3rd Dragoon Guards lost 90 horses, the Royals
34, and the 10th Hussars 106.
On 13 th October the Brigade marched across country to
Banteux on the canal De l'Escaut. The village was totally destroyed
and all ranks were in the open. The following day the Brigade
marched to Hennois Wood, Manancourt and Etricourt. The men
were in huts and all horses picketed out. The desolation of this
devastated area was appalling. Hardly a house was standing in
any of the villages and the land was covered with rank grass and
cut up by endless trenches and belts of rusty wire.
By a curious chance the grave of Captain C. R. Tidswell
(Royals), who had left the regiment in 1 9 1 9 to join the R.F.C. and
had been missing for many months, was found clearly marked on
the hillside near the huts occupied by his old regiment.
During the next few days the Brigade was occupied in re-fitting,
and mounted reinforcements arrived.
The Germans continued to retreat steadily along the whole
front. Ostend, Lille and Douai fell in one day.
On 20th October Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C, returned from
Cambridge and again assumed the duties of Brigade Major, Cnptnin
D. E. Wallace, M.C, becoming Staff Captain.
N 6th November the Brigade marched through Havrin- r ^ r 8
court to Marquion, and the following day to Esquerchin
1(2 miles West of Douai). Heavy rain fell throughout
these two days. On 8 th November the march was
continued to Peronne — Louvil — Fretin (about 6 miles
South-east of Lille).
That morning our troops had occupied the Western part of
Tournai and had crossed the Scheldt South of Antoing. On
9th November the Germans were retreating along the whole front
of the five British armies.
On 10th November the Brigade marched to Bachy, and later
in the morning crossed the Belgian frontier and reached Rumes
about 4 miles South-west of Tournai. It was here that news of
the German Emperor's flight to Holland was first received. At
3 p.m. the Brigade marched through the Southern outskirts of
Tournai, crossed the Scheldt at Vaulx-le-Tournai, and stayed the
night at Gaurain-Ramcroix.
At 6 a.m. on 11th November, General Paterson and Captain
Fielden attended a conference at Divisional headquarters at Antoing,
and at 8.15 a.m. the Brigade concentrated at the nth mile-
stone on the Tournai — Leuze road. A quarter of an hour later the
Brigade moved forward as advance guard to the 3rd Cavalry
Division with objective Enghien — Steenkerque. The Royals were
in front as advance guard to the Brigade with the line Ath — Chievres
as first objective. The 10th Hussars who were patrolling towards
Enghien and Steenkerque were in contact with the enemy about
11.30 a.m. North of Silly, and it is certain that the whole Brigade
would have been in action by noon.
About 10 a.m. the head of the main body had just reached the
centre of the town of Leuze, when it was overtaken by a cavalry
1918 corps car, in which was a staff officer, who handed the following-
official telegram to General Paterson : —
( 1st Cav Div
I 3rd Cav Div
GC 303 1 1
Hostilities will cease at 1 1 00 today Novi 1 aaa troops
will stand fast on position reached at hour named aaa
line of outposts will be established and reported to
Corps HQ aaa remainder of troops will be collected
and organised ready to meet any demand aaa all
military precautions will be preserved and there will
be no communication with enemy aaa further
instructions will be issued aaa acknowledge
From Cav Corps
Time 08.10 G. Reynolds, Major
The Brigade dismounted and messages were at once sent to
the Royals and to all patrols repeating this telegram and ordering
them to stand fast where they were. At 1 1 a.m. the actual
hour when hostilities ceased, an impromptu ceremony took place
in the market square of Leuze. An infantry battalion (a London
Regiment) with its band happened to be there. Mounted men
were summoned from each of the units present with the Brigade,
and these formed three sides of a square, the infantry the fourth.
In the centre of the square were the Mayor of Leuze, the G.O.C.
6th Cavalry Brigade, the band and the regimental trumpeters. The
market place was full of civilians, and every window and door was
crowded. As the last stroke of 11.0 died away, the trumpeters
sounded " Stand Fast " and " Cease Fire," and then as the infantry
presented arms, the band played "God Save the King," followed 191
by the Belgian and French national anthems. It was a memorable
and intensely moving scene.
The Brigade remained on the outskirts of Leuze till the after-
noon, and then marched back to Gaurain Ramcroix, moving the
following day about three miles South-east to the Ponenche area.
The next four days were spent in a thorough clean-up. One
squadron (10th Hussars) joined Headquarters Cavalry Corps, as
escort to the Corps Commander, and one troop (^rd Dragoon
Guards) joined Headquarters 3rd Cavalry Division as escort to
Major General A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O.
Maps were now issued showing the Zones allotted to the
Allied Armies in their advance through Belgium into Germany
and marking the various Lines which must be free of all German
troops by a certain date.
THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE
19 1 8 ^0 ~^^ N 17th November, in accordance with the terms of
the Armistice, the Brigade began its march East-
wards into Belgium. All bridges and important cross
roads as well as miles of railway track were found
prepared for demolition, and the Field Troop R.E. which
was attached to the Brigade during the march was kept busy.
The first night was spent in an area about 3 miles West of Enghien.
The Royals held a line of outposts immediately on the outskirts of
The main road from Leuze to Enghien presented a most extra-
ordinary sight. Literally thousands of Belgian and French civilians,
who had been deported from their homes by the Germans and were
now at last set free, were making their way westwards on foot.
The hand-carts and barrows on which they carried their few
belongings were covered with the flags of the Allies. Every now
and again the people, tired but happy, stopped and cheered the
troops. Among the civilians were scores of liberated British
prisoners. They were dressed in such an assortment of ragged
garments that it was difficult to recognise them. Many were ill
and nearly all of them were hungry. A system was devised by
which motor ambulances moving with the mounted troops carried
extra rations, and the men were properly fed and passed back from
one headquarters to another.
On 1 8th November the Brigade marched through Enghien and
was billeted at Saintes, Tubise, Quenast. On 20th November, at
the request of the Burgermestre for assistance, one troop (Royals)
was sent forward to Hal to quell disturbances. The civilian
population had been mobbing persons who were considered guilty
of pro-German sympathies during the enemy occupation.
THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE
On 2 1 st November the Brigade marched across the field of 191
On this very ground over one hundred years before The Royal
Dragoons had taken part in the famous charge of the Union Brigade.
They were then brigaded under General Sir William Ponsonby with
the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) and the 6th (Inniskilling)
Dragoons. At about 1.30 p.m. on 1 8 th June, 1815, D'Erlon's
brigade of 20,000 men had made an overwhelming attack, as a result
of which a Belgian brigade had been completely scattered, the
supporting British infantry broken, and many guns captured. The
whole Allied position was thus endangered, and at this critical
moment the Union Brigade was ordered to charge. The three
regiments deployed into line, halted to allow the broken infantry
to retire through them, and swept forward in an irresistible charge.
The French columns were dispersed in all directions. " Every-
" where the Royals, Greys and Inniskillings were to be seen
" trampling down and sabring the fugitives."
The night of 21st November the Brigade billeted in the area
round Ottignies, moving on the following day to Eghezee. Both
here and in the Ottignies area guards were left to take over German
material which had been left in accordance with the Armistice terms.
The following material was found in Ottignies station and sidings
alone: — 22 locomotives, ^8 passenger coaches, 390 trucks contain-
ing ammunition, coal and wood, 76 empty trucks, 5 new aeroplanes
packed on trucks. At Eghezee on the 23rd November over
50 guns of all calibres and many trench mortars were handed over
personally by a German officer to Brigade headquarters.
In every village and town throughout the advance the Brigade
was received with the greatest enthusiasm by the Belgian population.
Their genuine pleasure at the sight of British troops after four
years of German occupation was shown by the crowds of cheering
people who lined the roads, by the triumphal arches, bands, speeches
THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE
191 8 and official receptions, and by an intense desire to do everything to
make the troops comfortable.
On 24th November " A " Squadron (Royals) (Captain
E. W. T. Miles, M.C.) marched to Namur and took over
guards from the nth Hussars, one troop being billeted on the top
of the citadel. The same day the Brigade moved a few miles South,
Brigade headquarters being at Upigny. The Royals were billeted
a few miles from Namur near three enormous Zeppelin hangars,
from which several of the air raids on London had started during
the earlier part of the war.
Owing to the great difficulties of transport only the 2nd Army
(to which was attached the 1st Cavalry Division) advanced into
Germany. The 4th Army (to which the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry
Divisions were attached) remained in Belgium. The Brigade
remained in the Upigny area until 12th December, when it marched
eastwards and staying one night in the neighbourhood of Vinalmont
moved the following day into permanent winter billets about ten
miles West of Liege.
Brigade Headquarters (including the 6th Signal Troop and the
13th M.V.S.) were at Stockay, the 3rd Dragoon Guards at St.
Georges, The Royal Dragoons at Jehay, the 10th Royal Hussars
at Seraing-le-Chateau, " C " Battery R.H.A. at Awirs, the 6th
Machine Gun Squadron at Amay, the 6th C.F.iV. at La Mallieue.
1 919 In the latter part of December demobilisation began, and
during the month of January proceeded at the average rate of
2 officers and 40 other ranks a day.
At the end of January all horses were classified, and during
February " C " and " Y " horses were sent to England and " Z "
horses were disposed of at local sales at Liege and Huy. Only
" X " horses, which were those selected for the Army of Occupation
and officers' chargers, remained. Meanwhile, demobilisation con-
tinued fairly steadily, till there were only just sufficient men left to
look after the horses.
THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE
Units now began to make preparations to leave the Brigade 1919
for their various destinations, and on the departure of each regiment
those who still remained turned out to wish the officers and men who
were leaving farewell and good luck.
On 7th March the 3rd Dragoon Guards (Lieut. -Colonel C. L.
Rome, D.S.O.) which had been reduced to Cadre " A " strength,
proceeded by lorry to the cadre area near Verviers. A tew weeks
later they returned to Tidworth, preparatory to going abroad the
A few days later it was definitely decided that the Royals and
the 10th Hussars were to form part of the Army of the Rhine.
On 14th March the 10th Royal Hussars (Lieut.-Colonel
F. H. D. C. YVhitmore, C.M.G., D.S.O.) started on their march
Meanwhile " C " Battery R.H.A. (Major D. Scott, M.C.) had
already been reduced to Cadre "A" strength, and was now under
orders of C. R.H.A. awaiting transportation to England. The
6th Machine Gun Squadron (Major J. C. Humfrey, M.C.) was in
process of being broken up, all retainable men being sent to machine
gun squadrons in Germany. The 6th C.F.A. (Lieut.-Colonel C. H.
Stringer, D.S.O.) was being reduced to cadre under the orders of
the A.D.M.S., and the 6th Signal Troop and the 13th M.V.S. were
also being gradually brought down to minimum strength.
On 1 8th March The Royal Dragoons (Lieut.-Colonel F. W.
Wormald, D.S.O.) left the area and began a trek of several days to
General Paterson issued a Special Order of the Day to each
unit before it left the Brigade, thanking officers, N.C.O.s and men
for their splendid work and wishing them good luck. In the
course of a letter given to those men who were returning to civil
life, he wrote : " You have the satisfaction of knowing that you
" have served your country well and that whatever your military rank
" and standing may have been, your efforts have really helped to
THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE
1 9 19 "bring about the defeat of the Germans. As a civilian you will
" find yourself confronted by many perplexing problems. Keep a
" level head and play the game in peace as admirably as you have
" played it in war."
Finally, Brigade headquarters itself, which no longer had any
troops to administer, was reduced to cadre. Captain Wallace had
already left the Brigade and General Paterson and his A.D.C. now
returned to England. The only officers who remained for a time
were Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C. (10th Hussars) and Captain C. J.
By 20th March, 19 19, the 6th Cavalry Brigade had ceased
Few who had been with the Brigade any length of time
witnessed its complete dispersal without regret. The relief that
hostilities had ceased did not detract from the feeling of genuine
sorrow that the time had come for many good friends to part. In the
vicissitudes of four and a half years of war men learn to know and
valu? each other, and many friendships are formed. With the pros-
pect of peace came a more vivid understanding how great was the
sacrifice of those countless friends who would never return. As unit
after unit left the Brigade for their various destinations, there were
many, both officers and men, who realised that a memorable chapter
in their lives had at last drawn to a close. But whatever the personal
feelings of each might be, there was satisfaction in knowing that the
6th Cavalry Brigade (from the day of its formation on Salisbury
Plain in 19 14 to the day of its final break-up in the neighbourhood
of Liege in 19 19) had not only played a part worthy of the famous
regiments which had served in it, but had also under conditions which
called for patience, adaptability and courage upheld the highest
traditions of the British Cavalry.
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54.6 History of the 6th
.54. Cavalry Brigade
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